Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Mexico Security Memo: Aug. 6, 2007

Accelerating Violence
stratfor.com
August 06, 2007
The violent trend that began several weeks ago in northern Mexico has continued this week and appears to be increasing. Drug-related killings occurred this week in Nuevo Leon, Sonora, Sinaloa, Chihuahua and Durango states -- all cartel battlegrounds. It is important to note, however, that other regions of the country also experience drug-related violence on a regular basis, such as the southern states of Guerrero and Michoacan.
Territorial control in these two states has long been of strategic importance to the Sinaloa cartel because of the port city of Acapulco, an important port of entry for drugs coming from South America. This control is frequently challenged by rival Gulf cartel operatives, who violently attempt to disrupt the Sinaloa cartel's operations. Examples this week of such violence include the killings of a city official's brother and a city police chief.
Two Dead Agents and Zhenli Ye Gon
Authorities confirmed Aug. 1 that two men found dead the day before in Guerrero state were agents of the Federal Investigative Agency. Federal police officers turn up dead nearly every week in Mexico. These two agents, however, were involved in the investigation of Zhenli Ye Gon, a Chinese-Mexican businessman accused by the United States and Mexico of supplying pseudoephedrine to Mexican cartels for manufacturing methamphetamine, a phenomenon discussed in a previous Mexico Security Memo. Since authorities seized more than $200 million in cash -- comprising more than two tons of $100 bills -- from Ye Gon's Mexico City home earlier this year, the case has gained national attention in Mexico. Speaking at a forum on organized crime in Latin America, a Colombian national police official accused Ye Gon of having links to Chinese organized crime and added that the Chinese mafia has set up illegal casinos and money laundering operations in many parts of Latin America. The claims shed light on the complex nature of organized criminal enterprises, which have direct and indirect links to drug trafficking.
An EPR UptickThe Popular Revolutionary Army (EPR), which claimed responsibility in July for attacks against oil pipelines in Guanajuato and Queretaro states and against a federal prison in Chiapas state, has increased its operational tempo. Most recently, it placed two small explosive devices in Oaxaca. The increased frequency of attacks is unusual for the EPR, and requires close attention. The Oaxaca bombs were the EPR's fourth attack in as many weeks and as many states. This increased frequency must have demanded a major effort by the EPR, whose actual membership likely numbers in the low hundreds (much lower than it claims). Even if the EPR is shifting its focus from symbolic targets to strategic economic targets, and even if the group can sustain this increased tempo, it is unlikely to carry out attacks designed to kill. The group so far has been content to conduct attacks that send messages. Even when given the opportunity to cause casualties -- as in the jail attack -- it has not done so. Whether the group will continue the same high frequency of attacks remains unknown. If it does, government facilities, foreign companies, nongovernmental organizations and economic targets throughout the country are at risk of similar attacks.
July 30
A decomposing body was found stuffed in a plastic container in Apodaca, Nuevo Leon state.
The leader of a peasant union in Zacapu, Michoacan state, was found dead with at least three gunshot wounds. He reportedly was abducted July 27 by a group of armed men and was being held for ransom.
Police in Sonora state responding to an anonymous tip found the body of a suspected drug trafficker in the northern city of Caborca. The victim was found shot to death with bound hands.
A man in Atoyac, Guerrero state, died of multiple shotgun wounds.
July 31
Authorities in Cancun, Quintana Roo state, discovered the body of a U.S. citizen of Cuban origin who had been shot multiple times. He reportedly was involved in illegally smuggling Cuban immigrants into Mexico.
The brother of a city official in Arcelia, Guerrero state, was wounded after being shot several times by a group of gunmen.
The body of a man was found wrapped in a blanket with a note pinned on it in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua state. He had been tortured and shot several times.
Two men were found shot to death in separate incidents in Michoacan state, one in the town of La Huacana and the other in Ziracuaretiro.
Aug. 1
A small explosive device detonated at a department store in Oaxaca, Oaxaca state, while another device was found unexploded at a bank. No one was injured by the bombs, which were claimed by EPR.
Authorities confirmed that two men found dead July 31 in Guerrero state were Federal Investigative Agency agents.
Aug. 2
Officials discovered the body of an unidentified individual in Penjamo, Guanajuato state, who had been shot several times.
Three people died in apparent drug-related killings in Durango state. Two occurred in Tamazula and one in Santiago Papasquiaro.
The body of a man was found in Tlalnepantla, Mexico state, with multiple gunshot wounds and bound hands.
Officials in Sonora state discovered the body of a man shot three times and left on the side of a highway.
Aug. 4
A group of armed men shot and killed the police chief of Paracho, Michoacan state, who was traveling unarmed to the state capital, Morelia.
Police in Paracho, Michoacan state, went on strike following the city police chief's killing, demanding better equipment.
Aug. 5
A senior journalist for El Semanario in Oaxaca state was shot three times.
Authorities in Hacienda Nueva, Aguascalientes state, discovered the body of a man nearly severed at the waist.

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