Jul 31, 2011

Week´s Top Articles: July 23 - 30, 2011

Here are the most important articles of the past week. They include three excellent analyses of why U.S. drug war policy is inevitably a failure, as well as the Obama administration's announcement of its "new" - and purportedly improved - strategy, now aimed at "transnational crime." There is also a four-part, in-depth series on the Sinaloa cartel in the U.S. And for good news, there is the announcement by the NAACP of its decision to launch a campaign against the drug war. 

On the issue of immigration, there is a story of the march from Central America to Mexico and the U.S. border by migrants and human rights activists to highlight the dangers of migration and demand reforms in Mexico. And there is a wonderful story of an immigrant traveling theater group.
On the Mexican economy there is a closer and critical look at the realities, including growing poverty.  

NAACP calls for end to "war on drugs"


Hurrah for the NAACP! It promises to mobilize its nation-wide organization to end the drug war.

AP /CBSThe NAACP on Tuesday passed what it called a "historic" resolution calling for an end to the war on drugs. "Today the NAACP has taken a major step towards equity, justice and effective law enforcement," NAACP President Benjamin Jealous said in a statement Monday. The resolution was approved by delegates at the annual NAACP convention in Los Angeles. "These flawed drug policies that have been mostly enforced in African American communities must be stopped and replaced with evidenced-based practices that address the root causes of drug use and abuse in America."

Families of Missing Migrants March to Mexico

March to Mexico: "Human rights activists and relatives of missing Central American migrants are making their way to Mexico to protest against the killing, kidnap and abuse of migrants. Groups of protesters came from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador as part of the “Step by Step Towards Peace” march, which aims to highlight the plight of undocumented migrants who undertake the perilous journey through Mexico towards the U.S. border.

Inside the Sinaloa Cartel


latimes.com: "The Los Angeles Times this week published a four-part series by reporter Richard Marosi on the U.S. face of Mexico's Sinaloa cartel, considered one of the most powerful criminal organizations in the world. Here are highlights (and links) from the series.

A New Strategy to Combat an Evolving Threat


The Obama administration takes the war on drugs "to the next level" under the rubric of a "Strategy to Combat Transnational Organized Crime," linking the drug war closer to the War on Terrorism. The strategy aims to integrate "a broad spectrum of partners," including the Departments of Justice, Homeland Security and Defense, and "the intelligence community."

See our MexicoBlog editorial, The Delusion of Power, for our analysis of the strategy.

The White House: In announcing the Strategy, Attorney General Holder said,
"Today, with the release of this Transnational Organized Crime Strategy, we usher in a new era of national vigilance, global engagement, and close collaboration among – and beyond – our respective agencies and departments."

LA day laborers double as actors to teach, empower

A wonderful story about the creative freedom of art giving expression to the vitality of human beings who happen to be unauthorized immigrants.

LA day laborers double as actors to teach, empower | ajc.com: "Most days, they are construction workers and painters and maids. But twice a year, this group of day laborers morphs into actors in a traveling street theater troupe that performs at the very job centers where they and others gather to seek work across Southern California. Blending at-times bawdy humor with a serious message about employer abuses, the Los Angeles-based Day Laborer Theater Without Borders has helped teach illegal immigrants with little education or knowledge of the law about their rights in this country. ...

Illicit Globalization on the Border: Myths and Fears of Transnational Crime


From the CIP TransBorder Project, a review of an excellent analysis of how governments decide what is categorized as a crime that can then be attacked and defeated and how the ancient "crime"of smuggling defines borders. Global trade leads to global smuggling and the resulting border "wars."

Border Lines: "Peter Andreas is bothered by the consequences of alarmist threat assessments about transnational crime and porous borders. He writes, "The standard narrative of illicit economic globalization is not only exaggerated and misleading but can lead to counterproductive policy prescriptions. Urgent calls to “do something” about the illicit side of globalization can provide ammunition for politicians and bureaucrats to justify costly high-profile crackdowns that may be politically popular but that ultimately fail. It can also contribute to growing calls to further securitize and militarize policing efforts regardless of the effectiveness of using military resources for law enforcement tasks.""

Lessons from Mexico's drug wars

Ah, the global world. Here, from a South African newspaper, a report of a Mexican psychoanalyst's presentation, at a conference in Greece, of the the psychodynamics of capitalism that keep the drug market going between the United States and Mexico. An excellent analysis of why state power can never stop human desire. 

Thought Leader » Bert Olivier
 "It defies comprehension that a society can be so at war with itself that human life appears to have literally lost ALL value — even when a superficial take seems to explain it, simply, in terms of the colossal profits on the part of the druglords — until one turns to psychoanalysis for some understanding. At the recent International Society for Theoretical Psychology conference in Thessaloniki, Greece, David Cuéllar of the University of Michoacan San Nicolás in Mexico offered his audience just such a psychoanalytic interpretation of this utterly reprehensible socio-economic phenomenon.

Is the Mexican Economy Booming?


A critical analysis of the supposed "good news" of Mexican economic growth and resulting lower migration to the U.S.

North American Congress on Latin America: "Mexico’s Secretary of the Treasury, Ernesto Cordero, recently provoked some outrage when he announced that Mexico “was no longer a poor country.” Mexico, he tweeted to the press, echoing the line of the ruling National Action Party (PAN), “is now a middle income country.”
Well, maybe. Gross domestic product is growing but so—as opposition politicians were quick to point out—is the measured rate of poverty and the number of people eking out a living in the informal sector of the economy. Cordero’s claim has been received with little credibility in Mexico, but with a great deal of interest in the United States, which has a stake, for a number of reasons, in Mexican stability. 

Hyper-Violence in Mexico: An Interview with Howard Campbell

In this excellent interview, Howard Campbell, a professor at the University of Texas-El Paso, just across the border from Ciudad Juárez, explains the political, social, and economic forces that led to hyper-violence in Mexico.

North American Congress on Latin America
From the interview: "The objective of the U.S. and Mexican Drug Wars may have some good intentions, such as reducing the supply of illegal drugs available to youth and various groups who abuse drugs. In practice, however, the war on drugs is wasteful of money since as currently conceived, the war is not winnable. It is nearly impossible to stop people from getting access to many of these drugs. Prohibition also raises the price of the drugs. This strategy militarizes what are essentially health, social, and moral issues. The result is the incarceration of poor and minority users and the deaths of thousands of mostly young poor people who work in the drug trade or are the innocent victims of it. The strategy has also militarized much of Mexico, produced more violence not less, and been an utter failure. Those who benefit from the drug war are largely anti-drug warriors, politicians in both countries, and elite drug traffickers who profit from prohibition."

Mexico Blog Editorial: The Delusion of Power

Buried underneath last week's hysterical news about the continuing, politically manufactured "debt ceiling crisis," was an article from a non-U.S. press agency, the French Press Agency, entitled "US unveils sanctions against global organized crime," It detailed how President Obama had signed an executive order imposing financial and other sanctions on a group of foreign criminal organizations ranging from Russia, Japan and Italy to Mexico.

Buried even further within the article was mention that the executive order was part the White House's "new Strategy to Combat Transnational Crime." Going to the White House website, we found the full Strategy report, Its subtitle is, "Addressing Converging Threats to National Security."

In his introductory letter to the Strategy, President Obama says, "this strategy is organized around a single, unifying principle: to build, balance, and integrate the tools of American power to combat transnational organized crime and related threats to our national security..."

In supporting his role as spokesman for this "strategy," Attorney General Holder proclaimed that, " Today, with the release of this Transnational Organized Crime Strategy, we usher in a new era of national vigilance, global engagement, and close collaboration among – and beyond – our respective agencies and departments."

He went on to say, "Not only will this new strategy allow us to integrate our work more effectively, and to leverage limited resources more efficiently, it also will ensure that our agencies – and our government and law enforcement partners – have the tools and authorities necessary to protect the American people from some of today’s most urgent, and complex, threats."

The strategy document begins by defining - for the first time in government publications - what it means by Transnational Criminal Organization (with its government-speak acroynym, "TCO"):

"Transnational organized crime refers to those self-perpetuating associations of individuals who operate transnationally for the purpose of obtaining power, influence, monetary and/or commercial gains, wholly or in part by illegal means, while protecting their activities through a pattern of corruption and/or violence, or while protecting their illegal activities through a transnational organizational structure and the exploitation of transnational commerce or communication mechanisms."

The attempt to define these organizations goes on to say, "Transnational organized criminals act conspiratorially in their criminal activities and possess certain characteristics." These "may" include committing acts of violence and intimidation and attempting to corrupt governments and commerce.

Late in the list of characteristics -- but first in importance and logic -- is the acknowledgement that "they have economic gain as their primary goal, not only from patently illegal activities but also from investment in legitimate businesses."  We will leave to others a critique of the ambiguity of this "definition," which -- with government-speak slight of hand -- melds the terrorist goal of "obtaining power" with the cartel goal of making money.

The strategy then sets forth its goal and objectives: "The end-state we seek is to reduce transnational organized crime (TOC) from a national security threat to a manageable public safety problem in the United States and in strategic regions around the world."

Clearly, no thought has been given to any other framing of the issue of drug consumption as one of public health and education. Use and sale is defined as a crime and, now, as an urgent matter of "national security." The drug war becomes an ever bigger, international game of "cops and robbers."

The Strategy proposes to achieve it goal by pursuing five key policy objectives:
  1. Protect Americans and our partners from the harm, violence, and exploitation of transnational criminal networks. 
  2. Help partner countries strengthen governance and transparency, break the corruptive power of transnational criminal networks, and sever state-crime alliances. 
  3. Break the economic power of transnational criminal networks and protect strategic markets and the U.S. financial system from TOC penetration and abuse. 
  4. Defeat transnational criminal networks that pose the greatest threat to national security by targeting their infrastructures, depriving them of their enabling means, and preventing the criminal facilitation of terrorist activities. 
  5. Build international consensus, multilateral cooperation, and public-private partnerships to defeat transnational organized crime."
All of these goals and objectives focus on the use of power to "break" and "defeat"  the now ostensibly defined "transnational" enemy. These objectives are, themselves, worthy of thorough critical analysis.

The strategy goes on to outline how the U.S. - and the world - will reach these objectives by applying "American power." "New and innovative capabilities and tools" will be used. These include two particularly worrisome "tools":
  • A proposed legislative package (which) "will enhance the authorities available to investigate, interdict, and prosecute the activities of top transnational criminal networks." 
  • An interagency Threat Mitigation Working Group (which) "will identify those TOC networks that present a sufficiently high national security risk and will ensure the coordination of all elements of national power to combat them."  (AMB's emphasis) The National Security Council  and the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (aka "drug czar") will lead this group. 
The legislative proposals are not detailed. We wonder if we are we looking at another Patriot Act. The "interagency" coordination appears to be a central part of the strategy, as the action items presented list groups from the Departments of Justice (FBI, ATF, DEA), Homeland Security (various border security initiatives), and Defense, as well as the (undefined) "intelligence community." The War on Drugs is married to the War on Terror.

The strategy then lists six arenas of action to attack these "TCOs":
  1. Start at Home: Taking Shared Responsibility for Transnational Organized Crime 
  2. Enhance Intelligence and Information Sharing.
  3. Protect the Financial System and Strategic Markets against Transnational Organized Crime
  4. Strengthen Interdiction, Investigations, and Prosecutions
  5. Disrupt Drug Trafficking and Its Facilitation of Other Transnational Threats
  6. Build International Capacity, Cooperation, and Partnership
The "taking shared responsibility" part echos the language of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and President Obama that acknowledges that U.S. drug demand fuels the illicit drug trade. It then repeats promises of more focus on reducing drug consumption. However, the National Drug Strategy budget, announced earlier this year, continues to give the vast majority of funds to enforcement of prohibition.

The "new strategy" then goes on to focus on ostensibly better coordinated intelligence gathering (the U.S. having such a great record on intelligence gathering in the past decade), stopping money laundering (again, there is such a stellar past record), and interdiction and prosecution (same-old same-old).

It is clear to us that the “new” strategy is only more of the same-old same-old “war on drugs,” even though the Obama administration says it is no longer fighting a war. And it makes clear the motivation for continuing this war, now re-labeled as a fight against “transnational criminal organizations,” the new government-speak for the drug cartels.

The president’s introductory letter states the motivation, “…this strategy is organized around a single, unifying principle: to build, balance, and integrate the tools of American power to combat transnational organized crime and related threats to our national security”

The War on Drugs – and this “new strategy” – is all about the delusion of power, the misguided, false belief that the issue of drug consumption, by making it a crime, can be conquered by the powers of the state.

Power will never resolve an issue of human desire and the search to satisfy it.

We urge you to read two earlier posts: 

For more on the linkages of the drug war to the newly-coined "transnational crime", see the Border Lines blog, ‘Illicit Globalization on the Border: Drug War and Transnational Crime

For an analysis of how criminalization of desire and the resulting, inevitable power struggle between "cops and robbers" can never succeed "beating" or "defeating" human nature, see  Lessons from Mexico's Drug Wars

Whack-a-mole Drug War: Inside the Sinaloa Cartel

The week in Latin America: A smuggler named John - latimes.com: "The Times this week published a four-part series by reporter Richard Marosi on the U.S. face of Mexico's Sinaloa cartel, considered one of the most powerful criminal organizations in the world. Here are highlights (and links) from the series.

Mexican Politics: Campaign puts Mexico teachers union leader back in spotlight

Campaign puts Mexico teachers union leader back in spotlight - latimes.com"The most powerful woman in Mexico carries $5,000 Hermes purses and can make or break a presidency.

She's head of the nation's principal teachers union, the largest syndicate in Latin America, and once gave Hummers as gifts to loyal teachers.

Elba Esther Gordillo commands the patronage of more than 1.5 million teachers, and in election years, that means more than 1.5 million votes. Almost every political party courts her.

Yet scandal has forever dogged her, including accusations of illegal self-enrichment and even murder. No charges ever stuck, making her seem untouchable. Her union reportedly takes in millions in government money while she, once a humble teacher from Mexico's poorest south, lives much of the time in luxurious properties in Southern California. Gordillo's critics say her extravagances during 22 years as union president might not be so bothersome if the state of education in Mexico were not so abysmal.

Although her union has worked successfully to improve salaries and working conditions for teachers (they get out of teaching class the last Friday of each month), it has failed to improve the quality of education.

Last year, slightly more than half of high school students flunked the math portion of standardized tests, while more than a third flunked Spanish. Mexican students scored the lowest reading levels of developed countries in the most recent survey by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Meanwhile, in 2010, 75% of teachers-in-training failed the exam that would have placed them in a job, and last year only 1% of working teachers passed a test that would have raised their salaries.

Add to that: Many schools don't have running water, and a 2008 inspection found 33,000 schools nationwide were in need of serious repairs."

Mexican Economy: Poverty in Mexico rises to engulf nearly half the population

Poverty in Mexico rises to engulf nearly half the population - Los Angeles Times: "Mexico received more bad economic news Friday with a report that shows poverty is steadily on the rise.

The number of Mexicans living in poverty grew to 52 million in 2010, up by more than 3 million people from two years earlier, the report says. That means 46.2% of the population lives in poverty."

Immigration Crackdown: Faces of the immigration crackdown

The stories of some unauthorized immigrants and their treatment at the hands of immigration authorities.

Jeff Gerritt: Faces of the immigration crackdown | Detroit Free Press | freep.com: "Until this nation reforms its ineffective and inhumane immigration laws, federal law enforcement officers are stuck with the lousy job of enforcing them. But growing evidence suggests that the local U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Office and U.S. Border Patrol -- to the detriment of their critical mission -- are wasting time and money detaining hardworking immigrants who pose no threat, even subjecting them to medical neglect and other abuses.

Immigrants say Detroit has become a place where those who work hard and stay out of trouble face racial profiling and harassment at their schools and community centers by zealous immigration and border patrol officers. Their homes are entered without warrants, some say."

Immigration Crackdown - Alabama: Candlelight Vigil for Alabama's Illegal Immigration Law

Hurrah for the Bible Belt!

Candlelight Vigil for Alabama's Illegal Immigration Law: "Opposition to Alabama's new illegal immigration law is growing. The law has received backlash from churches and spiritual leaders across the state because they said it goes against Biblical teachings. In Montgomery thousands walked to the Capital Steps in a candlelight vigil to oppose Alabama's illegal immigration law."

Jul 30, 2011

Mexican Peace Movement: Mexican lawmakers urged by Javier Sicilia to reject gov't crime bill

Mexican lawmakers urged to reject gov't crime bill - Fox News Latino: "Prominent poet and peace activist Javier Sicilia urged Mexican lawmakers here Thursday to defeat the public safety bill President Felipe Calderon proposed in April 2009 and 'replace it with another one drafted jointly with citizens.'

'The law they want passed undermines the freedoms and civil rights enshrined in the constitution and validates the disgraceful effort to rein in institutional corruption and inefficiency by imposing a military and police state,' Sicilia told members of Congress during a public forum at the Chapultepec Castle.

In April 2009, Calderon proposed a wide-ranging plan to Congress that outlines the norms governing his controversial policy of using the military in law enforcement.

Calderon has maintained that the military must have the lead role in the drug war for the time being because municipal and state police have been thoroughly corrupted by well-funded cartels.

The bill was revised in the Senate and has now been sent to the lower house for further analysis. ...

"We can't allow democracy to surrender to authoritarianism or chaos and we also can't let peace surrender to war in order to preserve 'partyocracy' (a political system dominated by traditional parties) and privileges that betray the fatherland," said the poet, who founded the Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity after his son's murder by suspected drug-gang members four months ago."

Whack-a-mole Drug War: The resilience and interconnections of US and Mexican mafias

An interesting history of U.S. - Mexican crime organization links from the 1920's to present day.

The resilience and interconnections of US and Mexican mafias | Spero News: "Recent press coverage of the Mexican “drug war” has reported on the seemingly novel diversification of the Mexican cartels. But a semi-state capitalist business model rooted in illegal and legal activities of all sorts was evident back in the 1920s if not sooner.

Practically from its inception, international tourism was one of the promising business ventures eyed by the underworld."

Whack-a-mole Drug War: Reported that Juarez cartel armed wing leader nabbed

Reports: Juarez cartel armed wing leader nabbed - Forbes.com: "Federal police have captured the alleged leader of a ruthless gang of killers who work for a drug cartel in the violent border of Ciudad Juarez, Mexican news media said Saturday.

The suspect, Jose Antonio Acosta Hernandez, is wanted by the U.S. government on charges of murdering a U.S. consulate employee and her husband last year in Ciudad Juarez, which is across the border from El Paso, Texas.

The newspaper El Universal and Milenio television said the 33-year-old Acosta was arrested Friday in the northern city of Chihuahua, capital of the state where Ciudad Juarez is. Mexican authorities have identified Acosta as the head of La Linea, a gang of hit men and corrupt police officers who act as enforcers for the Juarez Cartel."

Immigration Politics: Farmers Oppose G.O.P. Bill on Immigration

Farmers Oppose G.O.P. Bill on Immigration - NYTimes.com: "Farmers across the country are rallying to fight a Republican-sponsored bill that would force them and all other employers to verify the legal immigration status of their workers, a move some say could imperil not only future harvests but also the agricultural community’s traditional support for conservative candidates.

The bill was proposed by Representative Lamar Smith, a Texas Republican who is the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. It would require farmers — who have long relied on a labor force of immigrants, a majority here without legal documents — to check all new hires through E-Verify, a federal database run by the Department of Homeland Security devised to ferret out illegal immigrants. ...

Supporters of E-Verify, an electronic system that is currently mandatory for most federal contractors but voluntary for other employers, argue that it would eliminate any doubt about workers’ legal status. But farmers say it could cripple a $390 billion industry that relies on hundreds of thousands of willing, low-wage immigrant workers to pick, sort and package everything from avocados to zucchini."

Drug Policy Reform: NAACP calls for end to "war on drugs"

AP /CBS: NAACP calls for end to "war on drugs": The NAACP on Tuesday passed what it called a "historic" resolution calling for an end to the war on drugs.

The resolution comes as world leaders are taking a hard look at the 40-year "war," and also as new data shows widened racial disparities within the U.S.

"Today the NAACP has taken a major step towards equity, justice and effective law enforcement," NAACP President Benjamin Jealous said in a statement Monday. The resolution was approved by delegates at the annual NAACP convention in Los Angeles. "These flawed drug policies that have been mostly enforced in African American communities must be stopped and replaced with evidenced-based practices that address the root causes of drug use and abuse in America."

The NAACP noted that African Americans are 13 times more likely to go to jail for the same drug-related offense than their white counterparts. The resolution endorses the expansion of rehabilitation and treatment programs as an alternative to sending drug offenders to prison. It also endorses the expansion of methadone clinics and other proven treatment protocols.

Robert Rooks, director of the NAACP Criminal Justice Program, said in a statement that the war on drugs has created "a system of racial disparities that rivals Jim Crow policies of the 1960's."

Last year, noting the racial disparities in drug policy enforcement, the NAACP's California chapter backed Proposition 19, the failed ballot measure that would have legalized marijuana use in California.

Last month, the Global Commission on Drug Policy also urged governments to end the criminalization of marijuana. The 19-member commission -- which included former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, former U.S. Secretary of State George P. Schultz, and former presidents of Mexico, Brazil and Colombia -- called the global war on drugs a failure. CBS News' Sharyl Attkisson reported that the federal drug control budget has grown substantially in the past four decades to more than $15 billion a year.

Once the NAACP's board of directors ratifies the resolution in October, the organization will encourage its 1,200 chapters to organize campaigns to advocate for the end to the war on drugs.

The NAACP approved its resolution on the same day new Census data showed that the "wealth gaps" between whites, blacks and Hispanics are the widest they've been since the government started keeping track 25 years ago.

Whack-a-mole Drug War: Mexico suspends aid to violent Ciudad Juarez on US border amid confrontations

More on the conflict between federal and local mole-whackers in Ciudad Juarez

Mexico suspends aid to violent Ciudad Juarez on US border amid confrontations - The Washington Post: "Mexico’s federal government has suspended aid for a police-training program in the violence-wracked border city of Ciudad Juarez, saying authorities there haven’t followed reporting rules and have trained few police.

Mexico’s National Public Safety System says it has suspended 57 million pesos ($4.85 million) in aid scheduled to be delivered this year, because the city has done little to actually train local police."

U.S. - Mexico Relations: Senate Foreign Relations Committee approves nomination of Earl Anthony Wayne as ambassador to Mexico

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee approves the nomination of Earl Anthony Wayne as ambassador to Mexico. The full Senate will have to confirm him. We have not yet seen a report of this in the U.S. press.

EU: comité del Senado aprueba nominación de Wayne como embajador en México - Nacional - CNNMéxico.com: "El Comité de Relaciones Exteriores del Senado de Estados Unidos aprobó la nominación de Earl Antony Wayne como nuevo embajador de dicho país ante México. El pleno del Senado tendrá que hacer la confirmación final."

Legalization: Scaring the Cartels: Reformists Say Legalize Marijuana

Time Magazine looks at the arguments for and against leglization of marijuana.

Scaring the Cartels: Reformists Say Legalize Marijuana - TIME: "These fires (soldiers burning captured marijuana) add heat to the simmering debate about marijuana laws raging north of the border. In November — just after the Tijuana bust — Proposition 19, an initiative to legalize marijuana, narrowly missed being approved in California. This month, as the 300-acre farm burned in Baja, petitioners were collecting signatures for a similar referendum to legalize marijuana in Colorado. In both cases, campaigners have cited the Mexican conflict as a reason to change U.S. drug laws. American ganja smokers are giving billions of dollars to psychotic Mexican drug cartels, they argue, and legalization is the only way to stop the war. It is a compelling argument. But is it true?"

Whack-a-mole Drug War: Mexico, Guatemala Agree to Up Security Cooperation

From 'InSight Crime'

Mexico, Guatemala Agree to Up Security Cooperation: "The presidents of Mexico and Guatemala have agreed to increase cooperation to strengthen border security and combat transnational organized crime, and to improve the security of migrants in the region.

On an official state visit to Mexico, Guatemala's president, Alvaro Colom, signed an agreement with his Mexican counterpart, Felipe Calderon, which will see the two nations working together to increase security along the 540 mile border that they share.

According to a joint statement, the leaders also agreed to intensify the exchange of intelligence information, to conduct joint operations against drug trafficking, human trafficking and the kidnapping and extortion of migrants in their respective territories."

Whack-a-mole Drug War: Bolivia President Warns of US Drug Agency Plots

From 'InSight Crime'

Bolivia President Warns of US Drug Agency Plots: "Nearly three years after expelling the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) from Bolivia, President Evo Morales continues to accuse the agency of seeking to control the drug trade for its own purposes.

In an interview with TeleSUR, Morales said that the DEA did not operate in accordance with its stated mission of combating drug trafficking while in his country, but worked to promote U.S. foreign policy interests. “The U.S. DEA did not fight against drug trafficking, they controlled it for political ends and now seeks to implicate governments who are not in accordance with the policies of developed countries,' he said. The Bolivian president claimed that former DEA agents had confirmed this, though he did not name any individuals."

Weapons Traffic: Mexico Seizes 3,500 Cartridges at Juarez Border Crossing

From 'InSight Crime'

Mexico Seizes 3,500 Cartridges at Juarez Border Crossing: "Customs authorities at the border crossing from the Texas into Mexico, at Ciudad Juarez, found some 3,500 cartridges of ammunition concealed on a bus.

The ammunition was found in the luggage of a female passenger on a public bus coming from El Paso."

Whack-a-mole Drug War: New Gang Targets Zetas on Mexico Gulf Coast

From 'InSight Crime'

New Gang Targets Zetas on Mexico Gulf Coast: "An emerging criminal group, calling itself the 'Zeta Killers,' has announced its formation, promising to rid the Mexican state of Veracruz of the Zetas drug gang."

Whack-a-mole Drug War: Sinister Details Emerge of Mexico Jail Massacre

From 'InSight Crime'

Sinister Details Emerge of Mexico Jail Massacre: "As Mexican authorities investigate the murder of 17 inmates in a Juarez jail, video footage from the scene has painted a picture of a cold-blooded killing, which officials seemingly made no effort to prevent.

Video taken from the jail’s security cameras, and released online by state authorities, shows the events leading up to the killing. A handful of guards are seen, just before the shooting began, leaving the hallway adjacent to the cell where 13 of the inmates were killed....

According to the government, the shooters belong to the Aztecas, a gang working for the Juarez Cartel, while the victims, the Mexicles, are in the service of the Sinaloa Cartel. While some have interpreted recent declines in the levels of violence in Juarez as a sign that Sinaloa is steadily winning control of the city, the rivalry, which has killed thousands of people in Juarez over the past several years, appears to be as hotly contested as ever inside of the jail. ...

The incident in Juarez points to a longstanding problem in Mexican criminal justice: the abysmal quality of the prison system. The massacre in Juarez is just the latest mass killing in a Mexican prison. Nineteen people died in a prison riot in Tijuana in September 2008, the Aztecas killed 20 rival gang members at a state prison in Juarez in March 2009, 19 people were killed in fighting in a Gomez Palacio prison a few months later, and a 23 were murdered in Durango in January 2010."

Whack-a-mole Drug War: As Federal Forces Withdraw, Juarez Police Must Hold their Own

From 'InSight Crime'

As Federal Forces Withdraw, Juarez Police Must Hold their Own: "Thousands of Federal Police who have overseen security in Mexico's most violent city for the past year are set to withdraw in the coming months -- but whether Ciudad Juarez’s local police are up to the job remains to be seen.

In September, Mexico’s Federal Police (Policia Federal - PF) will begin a phased withdrawal from Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua. As Milenio reported, around 5,500 federal police officers have been stationed there since April 2010, when the government announced that the PF would take over law enforcement functions from the army in the troubled city. Since then, the military has taken a lower-key role in security, continuing to conduct patrols but leaving law enforcement to the federal police force.

The country’s Public Security Ministry (Secretaria de Seguridad Publica - SSP) has stated that the plan does not amount to a complete withdrawal, as some PF special units will stay at their posts, and the Juarez Federal Police Command Center will remain open. In total, 1,500 federal police officers will stay on when the roll-back is completed in March 2012."

Whack-a-mole Drug War: Could Mexico City Become the Next Cartel Battleground?

Could Mexico City Become the Next Cartel Battleground?: "With much of Mexico suffering a wave of violence triggered by organized crime, analysts have questioned whether the nation’s capital and biggest city can really be immune from the war on drugs. ...

The absence of the extravagant bloodshed among criminal groups that characterizes much of north Mexico is a major factor in the capital's relative security. But what is the relationship between the nation’s notorious criminal groups and the metropolis of roughly 20 million people, located in the middle of the country?

The following is InSight Crime's translation of extracts from a report by M Semanal:"

Weapons Traffic: US 'Fast and Furious' Scheme Armed Sinaloa Cartel

From 'InSight Crime'

US Gun Scheme Armed Sinaloa Cartel: Report: "Guns that were sold to suspected cartel middlemen under the U.S. government's 'Fast and Furious' anti-arms trafficking scheme ended up in the hands of Mexico's Sinaloa Cartel, according to a Congress report.

Further details were released Tuesday, ahead of a congressional hearing in Washington D.C., of how the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) operation lost track of almost 2,000 weapons. The aim of the botched scheme was to sell firearms to people suspected of links to drug traffickers, in an attempt to trace gun-smuggling routes used by Mexican gangs.

According to sources cited in the report, some guns have ended up in the hands of Sinaloa Cartel, led by Joaquin Guzman, alias 'El Chapo,' as well as the Familia Michoacana gang and the Tijuana Cartel."

Human Rights Group Highlights Mexico's Trafficking Centers

Human Rights Group Highlights Mexico's Trafficking Centers: "Mexico’s foremost human rights group has released a new report on human trafficking, naming close to half of the states and a handful of major cities as trouble spots for the criminal activity.

As El Universal reports, the National Commission on Human Rights identified 15 of 31 states -- 32 if you include the federal entity of Mexico City -- as centers of human smuggling.

The report defines “human smuggling” as the movement of victim who are trafficked against their will and under false pretenses, and does not refer to willing migrants who pursue migration through illegal channels.

The report also names 11 cities as primary zones of operation for human traffickers. While many of them are concentrated in the northern of the country, close to the border with the U.S., many tourist destinations and cities in the geographic center of the country are also included on the list. In addition to border towns like Juarez and Tijuana, beach cities Cancun, Acapulco, and Puerto Vallarta all appear, alongside major urban centers like Guadalajara.

What this demonstrates is that the problem goes well beyond simply vaulting people across the border -- it is a well developed and operationally sophisticated industry."

Whack-a-mole Drug War: Killer, 15, Is Sentenced in Drug Case in Mexico

Killer, 15, Is Sentenced in Drug Case in Mexico - NYTimes.com: "A 15-year-old whom the authorities had accused of beheading four men as a hired killer for a drug cartel, highlighting the pull of young people into organized crime, was convicted on Tuesday and sentenced to three years in prison.

The arrest in December of the teenager, Edgar Jiménez Lugo, who went by the nickname “El Ponchis,” a reference to his pudgy build as a younger child, shocked the nation because of the gruesome nature of the crimes and his youth. He was 14 when the murders occurred."

Central American migrants: The Long March to Justice for Migrants - IPS ipsnews.net

The second story on the Central American mirgrant caravan currently moving north through Mexico

MEXICO: The Long March to Justice for Migrants - IPS ipsnews.net: "Wilfredo, a married father of three, is one of 500 people from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras who are taking part in the 'Step by Step Towards Peace Caravan', which set out Sunday Jul. 24 through south and southeast Mexico to draw attention to the many dangers faced by Central American migrants in Mexico and demand respect for their rights.

The participants are human rights defenders, family members of migrants who have gone missing in Mexico, and undocumented migrants like Wilfredo.

One group of participants in the Caravan rode atop the freight train that heads northward from Tenosique in southeastern Mexico, near the Guatemalan border, while the other portion of the march set out from Guatemala City and rode the bus and train through the southern states of Chiapas and Oaxaca.

The two groups met up Thursday night in Coatzacoalcos, in the southern state of Veracruz. ...

The next stop on the Caravan's route is Tierra Blanca, Veracruz, where the participants will meet with Felipe González, Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) Rapporteur on the Rights of Migrant Workers and Their Families, to tell him about cases that could fill shelves of volumes about the horrors along one of the world's most dangerous migrant routes.

González and his team are on a fact-finding mission in Mexico from Jul. 25 to Aug. 2."

Central American migration: Following the Trail of Missing Migrants

CENTRAL AMERICA-MEXICO: Following the Trail of Missing Migrants - IPS ipsnews.net: "To search for her son Juanito and protest the danger and abuses faced by hundreds of thousands of Central American migrants as they journey northwards through Mexico on their way to the U.S. border, Manuela Bran set out Monday for Mexico along with more than 100 other relatives of missing migrants from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, in the 'Step by Step Towards Peace Caravan'. ...

The march to protest the abuses faced by migrants in Mexico, organised by some 20 human rights organisations and groups of families of missing migrants, is following the "migrant trail" that crosses Mexico from south to northeast, through the states of Chiapas, Oaxaca, Veracruz and Tamaulipas.

The expedition consists of two groups. One is made up of activists and the family members of Central American migrants, who set out by bus Monday from Guatemala City, crossed the border into Mexico and reached Ixtepec, in the state of Oaxaca Wednesday, after passing through Ciudad Hidalgo, Tapachula and Arriaga, in the state of Chiapas.

The second group, consisting of more than 100 migrants, human rights defenders and religious workers, is riding on top of the freight train known as "the beast" or the "train of death," which thousands of undocumented Central Americans ride northwards every month.

The train set out Tuesday from Tenosique, in the southeastern state of Tabasco, on its way to Coatzacoalcos, a city in Veracruz where the two groups plan to meet up Friday Jul. 29. "

Whack-a-mole Drug War: Sinaloa drug bosses get suspicious - latimes.com

Cops and Robbers: Making drugs illegal creates criminals, "robbers."  Once the "robbers" are created, that gives the "cops"something to do. Here is the fourth and last installment in the Los Angeles Times "cops and robbers"series on the Sinaloa cartel vs the "drug cops," the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Mexico's Sinaloa drug cartel: Sinaloa drug bosses get suspicious - latimes.com: "Why were drug smugglers' cocaine shipments being seized all over the U.S.? The boss in Mexico was demanding answers. He had no idea he was being targeted by the DEA's Operation Imperial Emperor."

Whack-a-mole Drug War: Sinaloa cartel: Pilot found his calling smuggling cocaine

Cops and Robbers: Making drugs illegal creates criminals, "robbers."  Once the "robbers" are created, that gives the "cops"something to do. Here is the third installment in the Los Angeles Times "cops and robbers"series on the Sinaloa cartel vs the "drug cops," the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Sinaloa Mexico cartel: Pilot found his calling smuggling cocaine - latimes.com: "Flying shipments for the Sinaloa drug cartel was Ward's best gig in years. No street dealing, packaging or other grubby chores required. He delivered cocaine to a distributor in Pennsylvania and returned with duffel bags stuffed with up to $2.8 million, keeping a few 6-inch stacks of cash for himself.

Taking off from Riverside County's Corona Municipal Airport at dawn, Ward could be back the next day, feeding twenties and hundreds into the counting machine at his home in Carlsbad."

Whack-a-mole Drug War: Police chief in Ciudad Juarez claims Mexican feds tried to kill him

Apparently, one set of mole-whackers almost whacked another mole-whacker.

Police chief in Ciudad Juarez claims Mexican feds tried to kill him - latimes.com: "The police chief of Ciudad Juarez has alleged that officers with Mexico's Federal Police attempted to kill him during a chaotic operation on Monday night, ratcheting up an increasingly bitter turf war over who gets to police the troubled border city.

Police Chief Julian Leyzaola said that Federal Police officers fired on his vehicle without warning during a massive police response to a series of shootouts late Monday in the municipal prison. In a statement, the Federal Police said Leyzaola's vehicle had crossed a security line, 'out of protocol,' while federal authorities attempted to contain what they called a possible prison break."

Jul 26, 2011

Immigration Politics: Congressional Hearing Today on Bill to Curtail Obama Administration Immigration Powers

Congressional Hearing Today on Bill to Curtail Obama Administration Immigration Powers | Feet in 2 Worlds · Immigration news · Immigration reform · Immigrant communities: "The pointedly titled “Hinder the Administration’s Legalization Temptation Act“ (HALT Act) is a bill introduced by Representative Lamar Smith (R-TX) that would suspend certain laws protecting an immigrant’s right to stay in the U.S. until January 21, 2013, which is the final day of President Obama’s current term of office. The name suggests that President Obama is tempting unauthorized immigrants to stay in the U.S., or that the administration is tempted to legalize the status of unauthorized immigrants. Either way, the idea is to stop “temptation” in its tracks, by aiming a pistol at the discretion of both the executive and judicial branches in immigration cases.

A hearing on the bill is scheduled this afternoon (July 26) by the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration Policy and Enforcement."

Whack-a-mole Drug War: Obama Anti-Drug Strategy More Rhetoric than Reality

'InSight Crime' takes a look at the "new" Strategy against Transnational Organized Crime.

Obama Anti-Drug Strategy More Rhetoric than Reality: "The U.S. government has unveiled a 'new' strategy against transnational organized crime which is vintage Obama: long on politically correct rhetoric, short on actual policy changes.

The policy, which is available online, is the result of what the administration says is the first comprehensive review of the U.S. approach to fighting organized crime since 1995. It lays out the administration's priorities in clear, concise language, even taking the time to define 'transnational organized crime.' (What's next? Organized Crime for Dummies?)"

Human Rights of Migrants: Families of Missing Migrants March to Mexico

From 'InSight Crime'

Families of Missing Migrants March to Mexico: "Human rights activists and relatives of missing Central American migrants are making their way to Mexico to protest against the killing, kidnap and abuse of migrants.

Groups of protesters came from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador as part of the “Step by Step Towards Peace” march, which aims to highlight the plight of undocumented migrants who undertake the perilous journey through Mexico towards the U.S. border.

The protesters will commence a week-long journey through Mexico, travelling on routes commonly used by Central American migrants. Along the way, they will meet activists who offer protection to migrants, as well as visiting a cemetery for undocumented migrants and holding a vigil in memory of those who are missing.

The journey will end when the group reaches Mexico City on August 1, where they will march to the Mexican Senate."

Human Rights in the Whack-a-mole Drug War: Public Keeps Faith in Mexico Army, Despite Abuse Debate

From 'Insight Crime'

Public Keeps Faith in Mexico Army, Despite Abuse Debate: "While a landmark Supreme Court decision has put abuses by the Mexican military at the center of public debate, a new poll suggests that the country’s citizens have a high level of confidence in the army.

According to a new poll published in Excelsior, 58 percent of respondents said that the army respects human rights, with another 15 percent saying that the force shows partial respect. Only 21 percent said that the army did not respect human rights.

Furthermore, two-thirds of the polls respondents said that the army’s conduct with regard to human rights was satisfactory, compared to just 29 percent who said it was not. For the Federal Police, in contrast, just 45 percent gave the agency a satisfactory rating on human rights, with 52 percent saying it was unsatisfactory. The results for the municipal police -- 30 percent satisfactory, 69 percent unsatisfactory -- were even worse.

Majorities of respondents also expressed confidence in the 'fuero militar,' as the military's former exemption from civilian trials is known, and the army’s ability to police its own, while just 22 percent said that they thought the civilian tribunals were more trustworthy than the military tribunals."

Whack-a-mole Drug War: Mexico Navy Sees Golden Reputation Tarnished

From 'InSight Crime'

Mexico Navy Sees Golden Reputation Tarnished: "The Mexican navy has taken on a major role in the country’s fight against organized crime, but, despite various high-profile successes, it increasingly faces accusations of committing abuses and failing to improve security in Mexico. ...

... the navy's reputation as the cleaner force has recently taken some blows. Allegations have surfaced about·corruption within its ranks, and it has faced criticism from human rights group Amnesty International (AI). The organization said that the navy's increasingly prominent role in the fight against crime has coincided with an increase in human rights violations in Mexico. AI has called for Mexican authorities to investigate the disappearance of six people whose relatives claim were detained by the navy on June 5, during an operation in Tamaulipas state. The naval department has admitted that its troops "had contact"with the six but denies that they were detained."

Freedom of the Press: Women Journalists Face Double Threats

Women Journalists Face Double Threats - IPS ipsnews.net: "The murder of journalist Yolanda Ordaz, whose body was found Tuesday in the eastern Mexican city of Veracruz, once again threw into relief the dangers that reporters face in this country, which in the case of women are compounded by discriminatory and sexist treatment.

Ordaz, a reporter with Notiver, the leading newspaper in that region, went missing Sunday. Her corpse was found, with the throat cut, behind the offices of another newspaper. Her death brings to 14 the number of journalists killed in Mexico since 2010, and she is the third reporter murdered in the state of Veracruz in the last two months.

When she began to investigate the Jun. 20 murder of Notiver's assistant director Miguel Ángel López, Ordaz received threats telling her she 'would be next' if she did not drop the case. López was shot in his home along with his wife and son."

Mexican Justice: Evaluating Mexico’s “New Security Model”

Shannon K. O'Neil: Latin America's Moment » Blog Archive » Evaluating Mexico’s “New Security Model”: "Calderón’s legacy will depend on the security situation not just when he steps down at the end of 2012, but over the next generation. If the new Federal Police strengthens and the vision expands to include state and local forces; if the judicial reforms are implemented, transforming Mexico’s system of justice; and if these two law enforcement branches (federal police and the attorney general's office) learn to work together, then it will look very good indeed. But these are still big ifs. The legislative battles and international agreements are perhaps the easiest part of Mexico’s institutional transformation. The hardest slog will be in the bureaucratic trenches, trying to change the on-the-ground ways of doing things. It is this challenge that the next President – and Mexico more generally– still faces."

Rule of Law: Pemex counts 100 workers linked to Mexico fuel thefts

Pemex counts 100 workers linked to Mexico fuel thefts | Reuters: "More than 100 oil workers and contractors hired by Mexico's state oil monopoly Pemex have aided criminal gangs stealing millions of barrels of fuel over the past decade, a document obtained by Reuters shows.

The corrupt workers collaborate with crime gangs, some with links to powerful drug cartels, to hijack tanker trucks or siphon gas, crude oil and jet fuel out of tens of thousands of miles (kilometers) of pipelines snaking across Mexico."

The Border: Debate continues on border rock-assault shooting

Debate continues on border rock-assault shooting - SignOnSanDiego.com: "San Diego police expect to finish their investigation this week into the June 21 fatal shooting by a U.S. Border Patrol agent of a Mexican man who was hurling rocks and nail-studded wood during a confrontation along the international border.

The report will be forwarded to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in San Diego, which will review if the shooting was justified and whether the agent who fired the shots that killed 40-year-old Jose Alfredo Yanez Reyes should face charges."

Weapons Traffic: Fast and Furious - Embassy kept in dark as guns flooded Mexico

Fast and Furious: Embassy kept in dark as guns flooded Mexico - latimes.com: "As a surge of weapons from the United States began to show up at homicide scenes in Mexico last summer, officials in the U.S. Embassy sent a cable to Washington that asserted authorities needed to focus on small-time operators as the suppliers of guns to the drug cartels.

What embassy officials did not know was that at least some of the weapons they were noticing were guns that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives had allowed straw purchasers to buy as part of a sting operation, dubbed Fast and Furious. Ultimately, ATF lost track of an estimated 1,700 guns as they flowed into Mexico."

Whack-a-mole Drug War: Mexico's Sinaloa drug cartel: A vast L.A. web ships cocaine east

Cops and Robbers: Making drugs illegal creates criminals, "robbers."  Once the "robbers" are created, that gives the "cops"something to do. Here is the second installment in the Los Angeles Times "cops and robbers"series on the Sinaloa cartel vs the "drug cops," the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Mexico's Sinaloa drug cartel: A vast L.A. web ships cocaine east - latimes.com: "Channeling the Mexican cartel's nonstop river of cocaine onto trucks bound for cities in the U.S. requires a vast labyrinth of smugglers working in L.A. And women like Lupita, a no-nonsense psychic with a short fuse."

Weapons Traffic: Guns From Operation Fast and Furious Tied to Mexican Crimes - NYTimes.com

Guns From Operation Fast and Furious Tied to Mexican Crimes - NYTimes.com: "Congressional investigators examining a gun-trafficking sting investigation known as Operation Fast and Furious have identified 122 weapons linked to the operation that have been recovered at crime scenes in Mexico, according to a report they are expected to release Tuesday.

The report, which offers new details about the operation, lists 48 occasions between November 2009 and February 2011 in which Mexican authorities found one or more such weapons, based on internal e-mails of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, whose Phoenix office set up the operation. It was compiled by the staffs of Representative Darrell Issa of California and SenatorCharles E. Grassley of Iowa, the two Republicans leading the investigation.

“The faulty design of Operation Fast and Furious led to tragic consequences,” the report concludes. “Countless United States and Mexican citizens suffered as a result.”"

Jul 25, 2011

Whack-a-mole Drug War: Mexico - Marijuana Fields Found - NYTimes.com

Good grief! The weed is growing everywhere!

Mexico - Marijuana Fields Found - NYTimes.com: "Mexican soldiers have found a series of marijuana fields covering 148 acres in Durango State, the army said on Monday. An army patrol also found 44 tons of harvested marijuana as well as a processing lab and five camps, apparently for workers or guards. Together, the planted and harvested crops are worth about $133 million, the authorities said. Two weeks ago, soldiers found what the army described as the biggest marijuana plantation ever seen in Mexico, a 300-acre field in Baja California."

Whack-a-mole Drug War: A New Strategy to Combat an Evolving Threat

The Obama administration takes the war on drugs "to the next level" under the rubric of a "Strategy to Combat Transnational Organized Crime," linking the drug war closer to the War on Terrorism and linking "a broad spectrum of partners."


The Interagency Policy Committee on Illicit Drugs and Transnational Criminal Threats, led by the National Security Staff and the Office of National Drug Control Policy, will oversee implementation of the Strategy.

Following is Attorney General Holder's announcement of the "Strategy," in which he says, " today, with the release of this Transnational Organized Crime Strategy, we usher in a new era of national vigilance, global engagement, and close collaboration among – and beyond – our respective agencies and departments."

A New Strategy to Combat an Evolving Threat | The White House: Today, I am proud to stand with my colleagues from across the Administration as we unveil a comprehensive, cutting-edge strategy – the Strategy to Combat Transnational Organized Crime – that will take our nation’s fight against transnational organized crime to the next level.
Not only will this new strategy allow us to integrate our work more effectively, and to leverage limited resources more efficiently, it also will ensure that our agencies – and our government and law enforcement partners – have the tools and authorities necessary to protect the American people from some of today’s most urgent, and complex, threats.
Of course, the problem of transnational organized crime networks isn’t new. But after a wide-ranging, year-long review – the first study of its kind in more than 15 years – our understanding of what exactly we’re up against has never been clearer or more complete.

US Arrests Nearly 2,000 'Members' of Mexico Drug Gang

'InSight Crime' takes a critical look at U.S. goverment's claims that their recent arrest of some 2000 people related to La Familia Michoacana has delt a fatal blow to the cartel.

US Arrests Nearly 2,000 'Members' of Mexico Drug Gang: "Although the FBI claimed to have arrested nearly 2,000 suspected members of the Familia Michoacana, official praise for the crackdown ignores the criminal group's weakened standing in Mexico."

Whack-a-mole Drug War: US unveils sanctions against global organized crime

Perhaps the most notable statement made by the White House and quoted near the end of this report is the following admission that the U.S. drug market fuels much of this crime.

"The demand for illicit drugs, both in the United States and abroad, fuels the power, impunity and violence of criminal organizations around the globe," the White House's Strategy to Combat Transnational Organized Crime said.

But the Obama administration doesn't draw the logical conclulsion. Make drugs legal with regulated sale, and the U.S. would stop fueling this ¨"power, impunity and violence."

AFP: US unveils sanctions against global organized crime: "The United States Monday unveiled a series of tough sanctions aimed at cracking down on international organized crime, including gangs from Russia, Japan and Mexico, as well as the Italian Mafia.

The Japanese Yakuza, the Camorra from Naples and Mexico's Los Zetas as well as The Brothers' Circle, based mainly in the former Soviet Union, were among those slapped with economic sanctions, the White House said.

US President Barack Obama signed an executive order setting out 56 priority actions aimed at smashing transnational criminal organizations by breaking their economic power and protecting the financial system.

The order froze all property belonging to those groups designated as transnational criminal organizations, and barred American citizens from engaging in any business with them.

'Organized crime is no longer a local or regional problem; it has become a danger to international stability,' Obama wrote in a letter to Congress outlining his new order.

'Significant transnational criminal organizations have become increasingly sophisticated and dangerous to the United States and their activities have reached such scope and gravity that they destabilize the international system.'"

Justice, perhaps: Mass arrests take in 1,000 in Mexican human trafficking sting

We will have to wait and see if this leads to any actual trials and convictions. The ratio of reported crimes to convictions in Mexico is 98:2.

Mass arrests take in 1,000 in Mexican human trafficking sting - Monsters and Critics: "Police arrested more than 1,000 people in a sting targeting human trafficking operations in northern Mexico, national media reported Sunday.

The arrests caught up 500 men and 530 women accused of human trafficking and force minors into prostitution. The sting, in the northern Mexican border city of Ciudad Juarez also freed 20 girls, reported the Mexican Security Ministry overnight into Sunday."

Jul 24, 2011

Whack-a-mole Drig War: Mexico's Sinaloa drug cartel: DEA unravels a cocaine cartel web

Cops and Robbers: Making drugs illegal creates criminals, "robbers."  Once the "robbers" are created, that gives the "cops"something to do. Here is the first installment in the Los Angeles Times "cops and robbers" series on the Sinaloa cartel vs the "drug cops," the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Mexico's Sinaloa drug cartel: DEA unravels a cocaine cartel web - latimes.com: For several years, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration put the distribution side of Mexico's Sinaloa cartel under a microscope. This series describes the detailed picture that emerged of how the cartel moves drugs into Southern California and across the United States.

Drug Policy Reform: Drug war is a failure, so let's experiment

An opinion from Minneapolis, Minnesota

Jason Lewis: Drug war is a failure, so let's experiment | StarTribune.com: "So far, the international response to Mexico's agony has been feckless at best, dangerous at worst. In America, ... the appetite for illegal substances shows no signs of abating ....

Regardless, America's entrenched drug warriors remain undeterred. They simply refuse to recognize that the state isn't very good at keeping adults from "abusing their freedom" by doing foolish things."

Jul 23, 2011

Week´s Top Articles: July 15 -22, 2011

Statement of Ambassador Earl Anthony Wayne, Nominee for Ambassador to Mexico, to U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee


More evidence that the U.S. is committed to continuing bad polices regarding Mexico. 

Statement of Ambassador Earl Anthony Wayne « Mexico Institute: On July 20, 2011 the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations held a Nominations Hearing for Ambassador Anthony Wayne to confirm him as the new Ambassador to Mexico. His testimony reveals his plan to continue support for the Mérida Initiative, the drug war, border security and NAFTA economic integration. The full testimony is available through the above link.

Mexican border security makes it harder to seek medical care at Shriners clinic


For 30 years, doctors from the Salt Lake Shriners hospital held a daylong orthopedic clinic in Ciudad Juarez four or five times a year, seeing as many as 300 children. Shriners, which provides free pediatric care, would fly those needing surgery to Utah. Those numbers have dwindled greatly since the clinic moved to El Paso because of the danger in Juarez. Santora said doctors saw only 30 or 40 patients on their last visit. He estimates the number of surgeries has dropped from about 100 a year to 20. ...

At the Border, Teacher Becomes Unwitting Drug Smuggler


NPR: "Ana Isela Martinez Amaya is a teacher at a bilingual charter school in El Paso. She had just been named the Teacher of the Year at her school. On May 26, the 35-year-old mother of two was under arrest, accused of attempting to smuggle more than 100 pounds of marijuana into the United States. Because Martinez crossed daily into the U.S., she had applied for a SENTRI pass from the Department of Homeland Security. ...Because of her SENTRI pass and because of her regular commute, Martinez unwittingly had fallen victim to a new scheme by a local drug smuggling gang."

New Alabama immigration law has some immigrants already preparing to move


alabama.com: Some unauthorized immigrants have moved from Alabama. Many are trying to sell sofas, refrigerators and other items to raise money in case the law does survive a federal court challenge and they need to move home or to states without such a law. Many immigrant parents also are arranging for trusted people to have power of attorney, so that if they are detained under the law, someone will have authority to take care of their kids."

On the Border, Peaceful U.S. side is torn by Mexican strife


USATODAY.com: Unrelenting violence, though confined largely to Mexico, is unmistakably altering a unique culture that has bound generations on both sides of the vast southwestern border. From Matamoros, near the Gulf of Mexico, to Tijuana, on the Pacific Ocean, Mexican (businesses) thrived before the cartel violence erupted. Every day, the lure of cheap goods, services and entertainment drew thousands of U.S. customers who regarded Mexico as little more than a colorful extension of their own border towns. But even in sleepy places such as Del Rio and Eagle Pass, Texas, and Nogales, Ariz., visiting Mexico is no longer an option.

Art imitating life, death in Mexico's drug war - Corrido Music

The McAllen Texas Monitor.com: A style of music that has long roots in Mexican culture has recently come under fire by critics who accuse it of spreading lawlessness. The genre is called corrido, and its songs depict stories of an individual who faces a struggle — either ultimately triumphing, or meeting a glorious end. Performers and fans maintain it’s simply another form of expression that has begun to reflect the recent realities of the drug war, which are felt throughout Mexico and have brought border cities like Reynosa and Matamoros, in the Rio Grande Valley, to the forefront.

Road to immigration can be long, with many roadblocks

NewsOK.com: Americans who wonder why illegal immigrants sneak across the border rather than filing the paperwork necessary to immigrate legally don't understand how difficult and lengthy the process can be... U.S. immigration laws are a patchwork of preference categories and numerical caps that can ease the way for scientists, star athletes, and wealthy entrepreneurs to immigrate to the United States, while leaving unskilled laborers waiting in line for years.

U.S. border cities prove havens from Mexico's drug violence


USATODAY.com: A USA TODAY analysis of more than a decade of detailed crime data ....found that rates of violent crime along the U.S.-Mexico border have been falling for years — even before the U.S. security buildup that has included thousands of law enforcement officers and expansion of a massive fence along the border. U.S. border cities were statistically safer on average than other cities in their states. Those border cities, big and small, have maintained lower crime rates than the national average, which itself has been falling.

Immigration Crackdown: Washington State cancels driver's license of reporter in country illegally

The tangled web woven to hide his unauthorized status unravels further for Jose Antonio Vargas.

State DOL cancels driver's license of reporter in country illegally | Seattle Times Newspaper: "The state of Washington has canceled the driver's license of a journalist who, in a New York Times Magazine article last month, revealed that for 14 years he kept a secret from his U.S. employers: He is an illegal immigrant.

While illegal immigrants can still obtain drivers licenses in Washington, licensing officials said they canceled Jose Antonio Vargas' driver's license because he could not prove that he lived in the state when he obtained it, as required by law."

Immigration Reality: LA day laborers double as actors to teach, empower

A wonderful story about the creative freedom of art giving expression to the vitality of human beings who happen to be unauthorized immigrants.

LA day laborers double as actors to teach, empower | ajc.com: "Most days, they are construction workers and painters and maids.

But twice a year, this group of day laborers morphs into actors in a traveling street theater troupe that performs at the very job centers where they and others gather to seek work across Southern California.

Blending at-times bawdy humor with a serious message about employer abuses, the Los Angeles-based Day Laborer Theater Without Borders has helped teach illegal immigrants with little education or knowledge of the law about their rights in this country. ...

The troupe had its start three years ago when day laborers found themselves at the heart of a heated national debate over illegal immigration. Now, the group is helping other troupes get going in San Francisco and Maryland, while a similar group already exists in New Orleans."

Politics of the Immigration Crackdown: More illegal immigrants deported for traffic offenses. Problem for Obama? - CSMonitor.com

A good look at the political dynamics around the deportation actions of the Obama administration.

More illegal immigrants deported for traffic offenses. Problem for Obama? - CSMonitor.com: "The US notched a record number of deportations of illegal immigrants in 2010, according to an analysis of government statistics, with the spike driven primarily by increased deportations of people stopped for drunken driving and other traffic violations. ...

Drunken driving incidents involving illegal immigrants are known to inflame public anger over border security, and the Obama administration's deportation crackdown could be seen as a practical, and potentially popular, response to a public safety issue.

But news of the traffic-related deportations also highlights a political problem for the administration. It risks loss of Hispanics' support for Democrats, even as it seems to do little to persuade those on the right, who insist that President Obama is bent on letting most illegal immigrants off the hook in anticipation of a national amnesty program, that the administration is serious about immigration enforcement."

Immigration Crackdown: Electronic checking system in immigration spotlight

Good explanation of how E-Verify works and its limitations. 

Electronic checking system in immigration spotlight | Reuters: "Employers are increasingly being required to use a free, Internet-based system operated by the government to check that a new employee can work legally in the United States.

The system, called E-Verify, has been developed over 15 years and is operated by the Department of Homeland Security in partnership with the Social Security Administration. It has steadily improved but critics say still has a long way to go.

From 88,000 employers enrolled in fiscal year 2008 who checked 6.6 million records, E-Verify participation rose to 216,000 employers in 2010 who checked 13.4 million records.

As of June 22, 271,460 employers were participating with approximately 11 million records checked so far in fiscal 2011, according the Department of Homeland Security website. ...

Employers enter into the Web-based system the employee's date of birth and then either a social security number or a passport or visa number. The system checks the information against government databases. While the employer waits, the system returns either an authorization or a "tentative non-confirmation," or TNC.

If the system returns a TNC, the employee has eight days to contest the report. If the employee in the end remains unauthorized, the employer is required to fire the employee. The system is only run on new hires, not job applicants.

In a report in December 2010, the Government Accounting Office said that in fiscal year 2009 E-Verify "immediately confirmed" about 97.4 percent (or 8.2 million) newly hired workers as authorized, compared to 92 percent in fiscal 2006.

But government officials have said there's no way yet to determine exactly how many TNC's were actually unauthorized to work - or how many were actually legal workers caught up in a system that can make mistakes.

The biggest problem is that E-Verify is still easily defrauded with borrowed or stolen information, experts say.

Congressman John Conyers, the ranking Democrat on the U.S. House Judiciary Committee, said because of error rates and other issues, he doesn't support making E-Verify mandatory."