Jun 6, 2014

Tamaulipas: A Death Trap for Mexico's Military

Vanguardia - Source: 24 Horas
Translated by un vato for Borderland Beat
June 2, 2014

Sixty soldiers have died in operations against drug trafficking in the past 18 months; the Gulf and the Nueva Generacion (Jalisco's New Generation cartel) are the main aggressors.

REYNOSA.- A total of 60 Mexican Army soldiers have died in the first 18 months of this presidential term while taking part in operations implemented against organized crime and drug trafficking. One in three has lost his life in Tamaulipas.

Jalisco and Michoacan are states that have also seen soldiers fall, six in each case from December, 2012, until now. Next are Durango and Chihuahua with five (deaths) each,  Sinaloa with four, and the rest in seven other states.

Two attacks have resulted in the greatest number of deaths for the military. In both cases, the criminals had an advantage because they were ambushes, not direct confrontations.

One of them took place just this past May 13, at kilometer marker 70 on the Ameca-Mascota highway, right at the arches at the entrance to the municipality of Guachinango. A convoy of six soldiers with the 32nd Infantry Battalion were sent to obtain a sample from an illegal fuel tap. When the military transport was traveling through the area, a pickup truck blocked the road and triggered the ambush. More than 20 gunmen with the Jalisco New Generation Cartel (Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion) fired several volleys with their AK-47 assault rifles from the east side of the road, from about 40 meters away. The criminals also used fragmentation grenades.

Four soldiers lost their lives, unable to defend themselves. Another two, a lieutenant and a soldier, were badly wounded and were transferred to a hospital. There were no casualties among the criminals.

The other attack, the deadliest to date, took place on October 3, 2013, when gunmen from the Gulf Cartel ambushed a convoy of military police in Reynosa, Tamaulipas. The soldiers managed to defend themselves but they were at a disadvantage due to the poor visibility in the area where the attack took place. Thirty-five were killed by gunfire.

The number of fallen soldiers is slightly greater than (the number) during the first 18 months of the Calderon presidency, when 57 soldiers were killed. Another important difference, according to an official updated report from the Secretariat of National Defense (Sedena: Secretaria de la Defensa Nacional) is that, at the start of the previous administration, the principal cause of death was due to accidents during operations, and today, they are due to attacks with firearms.

The facts show that, of the 60 soldiers who have died from December 2012 to date, 35 were murdered by gunfire from criminals, compared to 19 that died from the same causes during the first part of the Calderon administration.

Vehicular accidents during operations are currently the second cause of military deaths, with 21 soldiers killed. The four remaining military deaths were: two from falls, one by drowning and one more from an aerial accident.

The majority of soldiers killed were from the lowest echelons, that is, they were soldiers. The higher ranking ones were an Infantry Second Captain, who died from gunfire in Guamuchil, Sonora, on May 30, 2013, and two lieutenants who died in Chihuahua and in Michoacan. Among those who died is a Lieutenant aircraft pilot with the Mexican Air Force, who lost his life in an aircraft accident in Chihuahua, Chihuahua.

It bears pointing out that, unlike previous years, there are no members of Special Forces or other elite units among the military casualties, which, according to authorities consulted, is due to the fact that criminals have preferred to attack conventional Army transport or patrol convoys.

In the past months, the operations with the greatest impact against criminal leaders have been carried out by special groups within the Mexican Navy.  

See original Borderland Beat translation.

No comments:

Post a Comment