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Old 01-16-2011, 06:04 PM   #1
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Mexico Gang Terror

I am posting this for general interest to anyone interested in their safety while in Mexico.

Gang's terror felt far from drug war on US border

By OLGA R. RODRIGUEZ, Associated Press

IXTEPEC, Mexico A priest who shelters stranded migrants needs police protection. A chopped-up body turns up with a threatening message. Beheadings are on the rise. The local press is too frightened to write about any of it.

This is not northern Mexico, where drug gangs fight for turf along the U.S. border and the Mexican government wages an open battle against them. This is the south, where the brutal Zetas cartel is quietly spreading a reign of terror virtually unchallenged, all the way to the border with Guatemala and across it.

Just as they have done in the north, groups claiming to be Zetas have set up criminal networks to control transit routes for drugs, migrants and contraband such as pirated DVDS, intimidating the populace and committing gruesome murders as an example to the uncooperative.

Four years ago they started preying on the south, Mexico's poorest region. They moved into Oaxaca, Chiapas and other southern states and then northern Guatemala, where attacks on townspeople became so commonplace that the government last month sent in 300 troops to regain control of the border province of Alta Verapaz.

In towns on the Oaxacan isthmus and the center of Oaxaca city, the capital, the wealthy as well as street vendors and migrants have been kidnapped and subjected to extortion.

Then last month, the gang blamed for massacring 72 migrants in the summer in the northern state of Tamaulipas became suspects in the disappearance of more than 40 Central American migrants in Oaxaca. The abduction drew international attention when the El Salvadoran foreign ministry reported the crime, but the Mexican government initially denied it happened.

The travelers were last seen Dec. 16 near the city of Ixtepec, along the sun-scorched transit route for thousands riding northbound freight trains. Twenty escaped and took refuge at a migrant shelter run by the Rev. Alejandro Solalinde, who says he has learned the kidnappers have ties to the Zetas.

The Mexican Attorney General's Office announced the arrest this month of a Nicaraguan and a Mexican on suspicion of being involved, but said nothing about Zetas or the missing migrants.

The Mexicans say the Zetas have hired Guatemalan former counterinsurgency soldiers to train new recruits, and a Zetas training camp for hit men was uncovered on the Guatemalan border last year.

Alejandro Poire, Mexico's government spokesman for security issues, said the reported scope of Zetas activity in southern Mexico is hardly comparable to the turf battle raging between the Zetas and their competitors in the north, where a split from their former employers, the Gulf Cartel, has sparked regular grenade attacks and daylight shootouts.

But to Solalinde, the Zetas "are a terrible de facto power."

"Unfortunately, we have a very corrupt country, with law enforcement agencies infiltrated" by organized crime, the priest said.

Four days after Solalinde reported the kidnapping and named the Zetas, he was visited by a burly, shaven-headed man whom police identified as a known hit man.

Police now patrol outside the shelter of unfinished cinderblock rooms, where migrants sleep on cardboard or blankets and stray dogs and cats wander about.

"There is danger," Solalinde said. "But imagine if every single person in Mexico kept silent, if all looked the other way, if no one did anything? That would be terrible for Mexico."

The Zetas rule by fear, threatening police, city officials, journalists and anyone else who gets in their way.

In November, on a much-visited cliff overlooking the picturesque center of Oaxaca City, police found a severed head in a gift-wrapped box. A threatening message left with the head was signed "Z," apparently for Zetas.

In the Oaxacan city of Juchitan, a decapitated man was dumped by a road in November and another was found chopped up in May with a note saying he was killed for posing as a Zeta.

"There are places, cantinas, where we all know they sell drugs, where the Zetas get together. Everybody knows, but nobody does anything," said a local journalist who requested anonymity fearing reprisals.

Authorities, however, contest the notion they are doing nothing. In Chiapas state, on the Guatemala border, more than 240 local and state police officers have been fired or arrested since 2008 for having links to the Zetas, according to the state Public Safety Department.

The Zetas formed in the late 1990s from a small group of elite soldiers based in Tamaulipas who deserted to work for the Gulf drug cartel.

They earned their notoriety by becoming the first to publicly display their beheaded rivals, most infamously two police officers in April 2006 in the Pacific resort city of Acapulco. The severed heads were found on spikes outside a government building with a message signed "Z" that said: "So that you learn to respect."

That year, the Gulf cartel, emboldened after retaining control of the northern border city of Nuevo Laredo, sent the Zetas to take over the south, which they kept after their boss, Gulf leader Osiel Cardenas Guillen, was extradited to the U.S.

By 2008, the Zetas had operations in 28 major Mexican cities, according to an analysis by Grupo Savant, a Washington-based security think tank.

They operate unchallenged in the south, the think tank says. While other cartels are preoccupied with maintaining their Pacific coast ports and northern border transit routes, the Zetas make hundreds of millions of dollars from extortion and trafficked goods coming overland via Guatemala.

Mexico's federal government acknowledges that Zetas have no geographic concentration like other cartels and therefore have shown up in disparate parts of the country. They operate almost like franchises, sending one member to an area they want to control to recruit local criminals.

For Central Americans migrating north, there are few options but to risk their lives crossing Zetas-controlled territory.

At the migrant shelter in Ixtepec, Denis Torres, a 24-year-old bricklayer from Tegucigalpa, Honduras, said he set out on his journey despite his family's pleas to stay. He said he was determined to join his uncle in Miami, where he had been promised a construction job.

"You do travel in fear, thinking they can kidnap you and torture you or kill you just because you came pursuing the American dream," he said.

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Old 01-16-2011, 06:23 PM   #2
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Now with all you just posted, isnt it interesting to hear those that say travel in and around border cities(on the US side as well as the Mexico side) are as safe as anyplace else in the US. Many of the Calif based Cruise Ships are stating they are reducing the number of ships going to the Baja Coast....Im in no rush to cross the border anytime in the near future..IMHO
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Old 01-16-2011, 08:10 PM   #3
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Acording to my info the Army has declared a "take on prisoners" stance against the Zetas. The reporters don't report because of fear. The Mexican people don't talk because of fear. Mexico is not the USA
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Old 01-16-2011, 08:31 PM   #4
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I am a member of a retired border law enforcement organization and I receive a lot of mail concerning border issues. I don't hesitate to say most of the violence that takes place south of the US/Mexico border does not make it into our news media. Personally, I'm staying north of the US/Mexico border and do feel comfortable traveling the US & Canada. That said there are also locations within the US that I avoid. You do need to be thinking about where you and your family happen to be and please keep in mind things change after dark.
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Old 01-16-2011, 08:35 PM   #5
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Me and my "dinero" stay on the US side of the border.
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Old 01-16-2011, 08:43 PM   #6
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And whats wrong with Canada? You sound a bit paranoid to me.(Chuckle Chuckle) We don't even carry guns in Canada.
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Old 01-16-2011, 08:48 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Arctic Owl View Post
And whats wrong with Canada? You sound a bit paranoid to me.(Chuckle Chuckle) We don't even carry guns in Canada.
Maybe so but it is a real pain going through our border dudes getting back into our country.
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Old 01-16-2011, 09:03 PM   #8
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Yes your right. The US Customs can be a little defensive in their duties. But you know what? That is their job & I for one, coming from Canada to the US do not demean them for doing what they are payed to do, even though I think it can be humerous at times. I have NOTHING to hide when I cross over nor when I return so I take it all with a grain of salt. Watch everyone scream if they happen to miss someone intending to do harm. I think they do a great job on both sides even though some may do their job a little aggressively. It is a pretty dangerous job & sometimes unthankful. JMHO
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Old 01-17-2011, 09:29 AM   #9
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Artic, re-read the post. He stated he DOES feel comfortable traveling the US & Canada.

I'll will also stay North of the U.S./Mexico border.
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Old 01-17-2011, 10:21 AM   #10
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gotta admit though
.... the food is 2nd to none, an icy margarita after a days hike, their culture, the shoreline and oceans, some shopping if you like that sorta stuff, ....
but the problems appear to be there for a while more

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Old 01-17-2011, 01:02 PM   #11
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Your right Wayne. Shame on me. Must be my bad eyesight & age comprehension. Sorry 1ciderdog. I will read slower in the future.
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Old 01-17-2011, 03:02 PM   #12
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A pity the Mexican "leaders" aren't smart enough to capitalize on the natural aspects their country offers to those across their borders.

Imagine neat and modern RV parks and resorts in the many spectacular locations along the coast and elsewhere - sprinkle in well appointed and modern medical facilities like those already doing major business in Mexico's border towns, as well as their bargain priced fuel, and they'd have more RV and retired traveler business than they could handle.

Unfortunately, the Mexican Mafia and related drug trafficking rules - and now they are losing even what RVing $$$ they did have...
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Old 01-17-2011, 03:33 PM   #13
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Personally, I think the drug violence will subside in time. The alternative is unthinkable; total anarchy and a failed nation-state. Maybe I'm naive, but I believe that this Mexican government is really trying to get a handle on it. Call it growing pains or whatever but I believe things will get better eventually.
That said, we need to secure our borders and keep this nonsense from our cities and population. And Mexico needs to solve its own problems.
I wish they'd hurry up though, I miss going to Puerto Vallarta, Ixtapa, etc.
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Old 01-17-2011, 04:31 PM   #14
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OK, those that know me know I'm somewhat to the right of... (insert your favorite conservatives name here) politically, but...

I've been saying for years it is not the business of the government to tell me what I can and can not ingest in my pursuit of (again, insert your own thoughts here). Did we not learn anything from prohibition? Apparently not. The only thing prohibition accomplished was to make some very bad people very rich and powerful. Same with our archaic drug laws.

Make it legal, tax the crap out of any sales, and use that money to fund education and treatment. It will save trillions of dollars and eventually make these drug gangs all but impotent.

Now, I'll also add that all that know me know I'm very boring. I don't drink, have never done drugs (not even in collage, Bill C ). Not against the drink, I've just never gotten a thrill out of it. Never quite stupid enough to start smoking or do drugs.
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