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Nov 3, 2008 | 23:52 GMT

11 mins read

Mexico Security Memo: Nov. 3, 2008

Mexico Security Memo

Nicaragua's Operation Trojan

Nicaraguan law enforcement executed "Operation Trojan" from Oct. 27 to Oct. 30 in an attempt to shut down a complex drug trafficking network of collection centers and cells belonging to the Mexican Sinaloa federation drug cartel. All in all, authorities seized 42.6 kilograms of cocaine, $367,660 in cash, 10 vehicles, three properties and a stash of firearms. Authorities also detained 18 alleged drug traffickers from Mexico, Honduras, Nicaragua and El Salvador. Among those arrested was Martin Lugo Lucio, a Mexican citizen whom the Nicaraguan authorities say heads Sinaloa operations in Nicaragua. Another interesting arrest was that of Jose Paulino Ortiz Aguirre, who claimed to be a deputy in the Central American Parliament. Ortiz Aguirre was released due to lack of evidence connecting him to the rest of the group. While his association with the international parliamentary body is unconfirmed, such a position would provide a helpful cover for illicit activities, as parliamentarians would likely enjoy less restricted movement throughout the region. Operation Trojan can be viewed as a mild success in the global struggle against illegal drugs. The most important piece of intelligence gained from the operation was the locations of the operations themselves. (Sinaloa's operations throughout Central America have been known for some time now.) Raids took place in the north along Nicaragua's border with Honduras, in the south along Nicaragua's border with Costa Rica and in the capital city of Managua. The proximity of these towns to the borders and their location in Nicaragua's interior indicates that land-based smuggling routes are still very active and valuable for the drug trafficking organizations operating in Central America. This is not to say that maritime smuggling routes have diminished in volume or importance, but rather that both land and sea routes remain very active and lucrative.

SIEDO Arrests

Mexican Attorney General Eduardo Medina Mora said Oct. 27 five senior officials (including the director of intelligence) from the anti-organized-crime unit (SIEDO) of the Office of the Mexican Attorney General (PGR) have been arrested for leaking sensitive information to the Beltran Leyva drug trafficking organization for money. The majority of the information leading to the arrests came from a foreign service national investigator (FSNI) who worked inside the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City for the U.S. Marshals Service and who also worked for the Beltran Leyva organization. Around the same time, PFP Chief Gerado Garay Cadena resigned Oct. 31 due to allegations and a pending investigation by the PGR into his possible connections to Sinaloa drug kingpin Ismael "El Mayo" Zambada. Cadena replaced acting PFP chief Edgar Millan Gomez, who was killed in May. The upper levels of Mexico's government are experiencing very high rates of turnover presently due to personal security fears and corruption, hampering its effectiveness. Even the Mexican military — which has been the government's main tool in fighting the cartels since President Felipe Calderon took office in 2006 in part due to the high levels of corruption in the various law enforcement entities — has shown cracks. The day after Mexican Undersecretary of Defense Francisco Armando Meza Castro said that the military was "well-armored" against the infiltration of organized crime, the Mexican Defense Ministry (SEDENA) acknowledged that five servicemen were under investigation for connections to the Beltran Leyva organization based on intelligence gleaned from the Jan. 21 arrest of Alfredo Beltran Leyva. While measures are taken to ensure that members of the military avoid corruption (like frequent deployment rotations and keeping servicemen in barracks, and hence isolated from the general population), at the very least a low level of corruption exists in the military. (click to view map)

Oct. 27

  • Anthony Placido, director of intelligence of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), said there are no plans to make any changes in DEA operations in the Mexico office in light of the infiltration of the U.S. Embassy in Mexico and SIEDO by the Beltran Leyva organization.
  • A group of armed men in a truck wearing black tactical gear shot two municipal policemen dead in Guanajuato.
  • A group of armed men intercepted the deputy director of the Durango state police along Francisco Villa Blvd. in the state capital of Durango, shooting and killing him.
  • Eight people were killed in Chihuahua state, four of whom were executed in border town of Ciudad Juarez.
  • The body of a kidnapped policeman in Culiacan, Sinaloa, was found wrapped in a blanket bearing signs of torture and with his hands and feet bound.
  • The father of man slain in Hermosillo, Sonora, on Oct. 24 was executed at his son's funeral in Mexicali, Baja California.
  • Mario Santacruz Hernandez, the chief of police in Caracuaro, Michoacan, was gunned down by a man he had reportedly gotten into a drunken fight with the night before in Tiquicheo, Michoacan.
  • Municipal policemen from the Xalapa-Banderilla and Tlalnelhuayocan areas physically assaulted the secretary of public security of Veracruz in protest of the arrests of two of their fellow police agents.
  • A nephew of State Attorney General Patricia Gonzalez Rodriguez and 10 other people died after being shot at night with AK-47s in Chihuahua state. The body of the nephew was found outside a home with two other corpses; 43 shell casings were found lying around the bodies.

Oct. 28

  • The Mexican military seized radio communications equipment, short and long firearms, more than 1,000 rounds of ammunition and three vehicles during raids in Pueblo Viejo, Guerrero state.
  • The Armed Revolutionary Forces of the People issued a statement denouncing the work of the New Left in the Democratic Revolutionary Party (PRD) in the states of Guerrero, Oaxaca and Mexico, saying they are eroding the efforts of defeated PRD presidential candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.
  • An armed commando wearing a Federal Investigative Agency uniform invaded a children's party in Las Quintas, killing three men.
  • Ten members of the Juarez gang Los Aztecas were arrested in connection with 12 murders in Juarez. Authorities found four AK-47s, pistols, 10 kilograms (about 20 pounds) of marijuana and radio communication equipment.
  • More than 100 guards went on strike in a Sinaloa prison, claiming they lack sufficient weapons for security purposes. The workers were concerned that administrative officials removed a group of state police officers tasked with guarding 10 "extremely dangerous" criminals, El Universal reported.
  • Two armed men including a suspected hired assassin were killed and four others were injured during a clash between Rosario municipal police and six gunmen. The police were attacked with AK-47 fire while making a routine traffic stop along a town road.
  • The Mexican army and federal authorities seized more than 26 kilograms (about 57 pounds) of marijuana and 5 kilograms of cocaine during a raid in Matamoros, although no captures or arrests were made. A 7.62-caliber rifle was also found, along with 10 electronic sealers, 19 boxes of baking soda, six scales, black suitcases and an all-wheel-drive vehicle with Texas license plates.
  • A vehicle full of PFP officers crashed in Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, during a late-night chase, killing one officer and injuring seven others. Four officers were reported to be in critical condition.

Oct. 29

  • A group of armed men stormed the Forensic Medicine Services of Culiacan, stealing a corpse from the morgue. The body, which was found charred just south of Culiacan, remains unidentified, but is widely believed to have been someone heavily involved in organized crime.
  • The PGR announced that the flow of cocaine transiting Mexico has been greatly reduced thanks to joint efforts between the PGR, Colombian police and the DEA.
  • A prisoner was found dead in his cell in Ciudad Victoria, Tamaulipas state, after he committed suicide. Along with 16 others, he had been recaptured after escaping from another prison in Reynosa on Oct. 9.
  • Two separate gangland executions were carried out in Sinaloa. One pair of victims was found near a baseball stadium with tied hands and multiple gunshot wounds in the head and chest. The other two were executed in Mocorito, just north of Culiacan; the bodies were riddled with 9-mm bullets with shots to the back of the head.
  • A man was found dead with his hands tied along a mountain highway in Pachuca, northeast of Mexico City.

Oct. 30

  • Edgar Bayardo Enrique Villar, a PFP inspector, suspected of links to cartel leader Ismael "El Mayo" Zambada, was transferred to SIEDO custody.
  • SEDENA seized numerous weapons, drugs and animals at the ranch property of Jesus Zambada in Mexico state. The seizure included two AK-47 rifles, two .22-caliber rifles, a 5.7-caliber rifle, two 9 mm pistols, 20 pills, and small amounts of cocaine and methamphetamine.
  • Seven civilians and four policemen were killed throughout Mexico state in various AK-47 attacks, including police chief Gustavo Torres Camarillo.
  • A large amount of weapons, ammunition and federal uniforms were confiscated from a safe-house by staff of the Federal Support Forces in the municipality of Pichucalco, Chiapas, the PGR reported.

Oct. 31

  • Undersecretary of Defense Gen. Francisco Armando Meza Castro said the Mexican armed forces were protected against infiltration by organized crime. He also denied that the former chief of narcotics intelligence, Roberto Aguilera Olivera, was involved with drug traffickers.
  • Jesse P. Camacho, aka "Buddha," was arrested in Mexico City by the PFP. The 20-year-old U.S. citizen is wanted in Massachusetts for first-degree murder and possession of a firearm without permit.
  • SEDENA acknowledged that organized criminal elements have infiltrated the military. The announcement came a day after Gen. Francisco Meza Armando Castro told the Mexican house of representatives that the military was protected against organized crime infiltration.
  • Eighteen alleged drug traffickers, including Martin Lugo Lucio, were captured during Operation Trojan in Nicaragua. The raids reportedly saw the seizure of 42.6 kilograms of cocaine, $367,660 in cash, 10 vehicles, three buildings and other weapons.
  • Nine people were executed in Chihuahua state, six of them in the city of Chihuahua and one each in Parral, Ocampo and Juarez, as violence continues with gangs fighting for control of the transshipment of drugs through the state.
  • Two 15-year-old boys were arrested after being identified as hired assassins in the town of Caborca, Sonora. Two older men were also arrested after police found a sizable weapons cache in the Toyota they were traveling in, including an AK-47, multiple high-powered rifles, two .45-caliber pistols and bulletproof vests.
  • Two police chiefs of municipal public security in Teoloyucan were found dead in plastic bags after disappearing earlier in the evening. More than eight people died overall during a 24-hour period in the municipality.
  • The interim PFP commissioner, Victor Gerardo Garay Cadena, announced his resignation after telling SIEDO of a link between PFP officers and Ismael "El Mayo" Zambada.
  • More than 1.5 million Mexicans returned to Mexico from the United States between 2006 and August 2008, the Center for Migration Studies reported. Reasons for this record number include increased U.S. border security and declining job prospects in the United States.

Nov. 1

  • Members of the PFP arrested Antonio Galarza Coronado, aka "El Amarillo," an alleged leader of the Gulf cartel in the city of Reynosa, Tamaulipas, the Federal Ministry of Public Security reported. His capture and that of one of his alleged accomplices, Juan Oscar Garza Azuara, came as part of the Joint Operational Monterrey.
  • A small-arms seizure occurred in the town of Navolato, Sinaloa state. The items confiscated included seven AK-47 rifles, 25 magazines stocked for these weapons, 875 cartridges, military-style uniforms and tactical vests.
  • The Mexican army arrested seven subjects in Ensenada including a minor, and seized 1.7 tons of marijuana, $400,000 in cash, several firearms and 28 vehicles.
  • A police officer on regular patrol was killed in Acambay, Mexico state, late at night.
  • Five men were killed in Tijuana, bringing the number of monthly executions to 172 in the border town.

Nov. 2.

  • The director of the State Preventive Police of Sonora, Juan Manuel Pavon Felix, died in a grenade attack by a group of armed commandos at the hotel Marques de Cima in Nogales, Sonora state, after he had completed several operations in the city earlier that day.
  • An unknown armed group of men in Naucalapan, Mexico state, killed two state police agents and injured three others in two separate attacks.
  • An unknown group of men firing AK-47s killed two men driving in a truck on Paseo del Guaycura Ave. in eastern Tijuana, Baja California state.
  • An armed group of men stormed the emergency room of the Red Cross in Juarez around 8 p.m., executing a man who had just arrived in the emergency room with a gunshot wound to the chest.

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