.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Friday, November 2

Mexico's crime cartels: In Michoacan state it's pretty quiet. The quiet of defeat.

Soldiers point out pastel-colored, air-conditioned narco-mansions that stand out from the cluster of humble rural shacks in many of the small towns. ... The cartel consists largely of men from the Tierra Caliente, and they promote themselves as a mystic Christian order dedicated to protecting the population from abuse at the hands of the military and police.

I saw the following report only by chance, while I was trawling the Fox News website for reports on Benghazi. When I read that an Associated Press reporter (unamed) had bravely embedded with Mexican troops to get a "soldier's eye" view of the cartel wars, I decided to snatch a moment to post the introductory paragraphs from the reporter's efforts, which are a window on a state in Mexico that lives under martial law -- the law of criminals. 

My only quibble:  the title of the report refers to a "drug" cartel. Mexico's crime cartels have moved way, way beyond just drug dealing.
At launching point of Mexico's drug war, quasi-religious cartel rules 6 years later
Associated Press via Fox News
November 2, 2012

APATZINGAN, Mexico – Forest-camouflaged pickups roared to life as the Mexican soldiers pulled on their black masks and hoisted their Heckler & Koch G3 assault rifles.

The three-truck convoy pulled out of the base to patrol the rugged, mountainous region of the western state of Michoacan, when a raspy voice burst out of an unencrypted radio inside one of the cabs: "Three R's, 53." Three army vehicles, headed your way.

It wasn't a soldier's voice. The radio had picked up a call from the Knights Templar, a quasi-religious drug cartel that controls the area and most of the state. Its web of spies monitors the movements of the military and police around the clock. The gang's members not only live off methamphetamine and marijuana smuggling and extortion, they maintain country roads, control the local economy and act as private debt collectors for citizens frustrated with the courts, soldiers say.

"Because they're vigilant and well-organized they roll around here with a lot of ease," said Lt. Col. Julices Gonzalez Calzada, the leader of the patrol.

Felipe Calderon launched his presidency in December 2006 by sending the army to Michoacan, his home state, to battle organized crime that he said threatened to expand from drug trafficking to controlling civil society. His administration says it has debilitated many of the cartels with a leadership-focused offensive that has killed or captured 25 of the country's 37 most-wanted men.

But he has failed to stop drug cartels from morphing into mafias infiltrating society in the sun-seared Tierra Caliente, or Hot Country, a region named for its steamy weather, but now also too hot with gang activity for many to live and work safely. The government annihilated the leadership of one previous cartel, La Familia Michoacana, but a splinter group, the Knights Templar, moved in to take control.

Rank-and-file soldiers say they feel largely powerless in the face of an enemy that hides among the population. They say whenever they make strategic strikes, the gang's professional-grade infrastructure is replaced almost as fast as it's taken down.

Now the two sides largely co-exist.
[...]

Comments: Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link



<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?