How ill are the Mexican drug wars getting? The drug cartels are building their own armored trucks. Rival drug gangs are playing around with really serious military hardware, including .50 caliber machine guns and grenades. At least some of them figured out an armoring solution for the uptick in firepower: armoring. Chop shops add inch-thick steel plates to a standard truck chassis like that of a Ford F-150. At least 100 of the so-cold “El Monstruo” monster trucks have been discovered by Mexican security officials this spring, with the most recent two found this weekend.
Tag Archives | Mexico
“The hearing is billed as ‘Reckless Decisions, Tragic Outcomes'”. William La Jeunesse writes on Fox News:
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Officials at the Department of Justice are in “panic mode,” according to multiple sources, as word spreads that congressional testimony next week will paint a bleak and humiliating picture of Operation Fast and Furious, the botched undercover operation that left a trail of blood from Mexico to Washington, D.C.
The operation was supposed to stem the flow of weapons from the U.S. to Mexico by allowing so-called straw buyers to purchase guns legally in the U.S. and later sell them in Mexico, usually to drug cartels.
Instead, ATF documents show that the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms knowingly and deliberately flooded Mexico with assault rifles. Their intent was to expose the entire smuggling organization, from top to bottom, but the operation spun out of control and supervisors refused pleas from field agents to stop it.
How is Mexico celebrating Cinco de Mayo? It’s rockin’ the country, or rather, the land is doing the rocking. The capital, Mexico City, felt the tremor of the quake, but there have been no reports of injury or damage. AlterNet reports:
A magnitude 5.8 earthquake shook Mexico on Thursday, causing buildings to sway in the capital some 300 kilometers (187 miles) away from the epicenter, an AFP correspondent and US seismologists said.
The quake struck at 1324 GMT near the town of Ometepec in the state of Guerrero, at a depth of 10 kilometers (six miles), the US Geological Survey (USGS) said.
The tremor rattled Mexico City, where earthquake alarms rang out in some quarters and office workers briefly spilled onto the streets.
Helicopters patrolled the capital — whose metropolitan area has a population of about 21 million people — while civil protection authorities reported no immediate damages.
[Continues at AlterNet]
In a secret program called “Fast and Furious”, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms knowingly let thousands of assault rifles (such as AK-47s) “walk” across the border into the hands of drug cartels in Mexico — ATF planned to track the guns for intelligence purposes and “see where they ended up.” The weaponry in question has been used in a spree of deadly crimes, including the murders of U.S. government agents Jaime Zapata and Brian Terry. A whistleblower at ATF brought the matter to light, CBS News reports:
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Mexico’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs is asking the U.S. government for details about ATF’s “Fast and Furious” operations.
As our CBS News Investigation has revealed, “Fast and Furious” was a secret program under which, sources say, ATF purposely allowed thousands of assault rifles and other weapons from the U.S. into the hands of drug cartels in Mexico. Insiders call it letting the guns “walk.”
Documents show that ATF-walked guns began turning up at many violent crime scenes in Mexico from the start.
The New York Times reports:
Stepping up its involvement in Mexico’s drug war, the Obama administration has begun sending drones deep into Mexican territory to gather intelligence that helps locate major traffickers and follow their networks, according to American and Mexican officials.
The Pentagon began flying high-altitude, unarmed drones over Mexican skies last month, American military officials said, in hopes of collecting information to turn over to Mexican law enforcement agencies. Other administration officials said a Homeland Security drone helped Mexican authorities find several suspects linked to the Feb. 15 killing of Jaime Zapata, a United States Immigration and Customs EnforcementImmigration agent.
President Obama and his Mexican counterpart, Felipe Calderón, formally agreed to continue the surveillance flights during a White House meeting on March 3. The American assistance has been kept secret because of legal restrictions in Mexico and the heated political sensitivities there about sovereignty, the officials said.
Before the outbreak of drug violence in Mexico that has left more than 34,000 dead in the past four years, such an agreement would have been all but unthinkable, they said…
An update to this story: a case of one young woman’s great courage meeting pragmatism, or rather, survival. What this illustrates (again) for me is the severity of the drug-related violence in Mexico. (An issue President Obama addressed in a joint-press conference with Mexico’s President Felipe Calderon this week.) She had to take relatives with her. Nick Allen reports in the Telegraph:
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Marisol Valles was hailed as “Mexico’s bravest woman” after she agreed to take the job in Praxedis Guadalupe Guerrero, a no-man’s-land close to the Texas border, in October.
But she has since been targeted by a criminal gang that wanted to make her work for them. After several months in the job she was forced to flee, along with two relatives, and will seek asylum in the US.
In December Erika Gandara, 28, the only police office left in the nearby town of Guadalupe was kidnapped and her house was set on fire.
Following the killing of a US ICE agent in Mexico yesterday, supporters for border security say this is a “game changer” and call for offensive against Mexican drug cartels. Fox News reports:
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Advocates for stronger border security on Wednesday called for stepping up the U.S. offensive to stop murderous drug cartels terrorizing Mexico after an Immigrations and Customs Enforcement agent was killed a day earlier.
“This tragic event is a game changer. The United States will not tolerate acts of violence against its citizens or law enforcement and I believe we must respond forcefully.
This should be a long overdue wake-up call for the Obama administration that there is a war on our nation’s doorstep,” said Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas.
McCaul’s comments came after Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Attorney General Holder announced they are establishing a joint task force to be led by the Federal Bureau of Investigation to help Mexico track down and capture the perpetrators in the murder of ICE Special Agent Jaime Zapata and wounding of another agent.
In a brazen attempt reminiscent of a medieval siege, Mexican smugglers tried to use a hefty catapult to hurl drugs north over the U.S. Border, authorities said on Wednesday. The Mexican military seized 45 pounds of marijuana, a sports utility vehicle and a metal-framed catapult just south of the Arizona border near the small town of Naco last Friday, following a tip-off from the U.S. Border Patrol. Surveillance video taken by National Guard troops deployed to support the Border Patrol caught a group of men apparently attempting to pull down a metal beam and load or test the catapult, which was powered by powerful elastic and mounted on a trailer close to the metal border fence. "It looks like a medieval catapult that was used back in the day," Tucson sector Border Patrol spokesman David Jimarez told Reuters.
Susana Chavez, a human rights activist, was best known for her poetry and actions to help raise awareness of the violence towards women, especially in the border-city of Juarez. After years of activism, Chavez has fallen to the same violence she has fought against. Via Fox News Latino:
A poet and women’s rights activist was murdered in Ciudad Juarez, a gritty border metropolis that has become Mexico’s most violent city, officials and associates of the victim said.
Susana Chavez’s body was found last week, but it was not identified until Tuesday, prosecutors said.
Chavez’s left hand was chopped off and her body was dumped in a poor neighborhood in downtown Juarez, the Chihuahua state Attorney General’s Office said.
Chavez organized protests to draw attention to crimes against women in the border city and participated in poetry readings that she dedicated to murdered women.
[Continues at Fox News Latino]
David Littlejohn reports on a new exhibition about the Olmecs, or “Rubber People,” at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, for the Wall Street Journal:
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The name “Olmec” (or “rubber people”) was given to the oldest-known culture in the Americas almost 2,000 years after that culture had disappeared, and was accepted by scholars only in 1932. We have no idea what these people of what is now eastern Mexico, just inland from the Gulf at its southernmost point, called themselves. In fact, we know almost nothing about them, except that they seem to have endured from about 2,000 to 400 B.C.
What we do know, or think we know, comes almost entirely from the carved stone monuments and other artifacts that outlived them underground, because stone does not rot.