Mexico

Blood avocados: Michoacán cartels co-opt ag-biz

Posted on January 22nd, 2014 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , .

MexicoMexico's violence-torn state of Michoacán produces millions of kilos each year of its famous specialty crop, highly prized in US markets... Yes, avocados. Michoacán accounts for 72% of total Mexican production of this rich, green fruit, and over 80% of the state's output is exported to the United States. The trade amounts to nearly a billion dollars a year—even ahead of the state's notorious (and prohibition-inflated) marijuana. But now the two industries are experiencing a grim synergy, as narco lords acquire avocado plantations to launder money, facilitate smuggling and maintain a cover of "legitimate" income. According to a recent exposé in Mexico's Vanguardia newspaper, the Knights Templar cartel has in recent years been running an extortion racket on avocado farmers, seizing their lands if they can't pay up (on pain of family members being abducted and threatened with death), building a "legal" agrarian empire in the state. The local agribusiness association, with the clunky name of the Michoacán State Committee on Vegetable Health, has been co-opted by the Templarios through threats and bribes, according to the report.

Federales race with vigilantes to crush Michoacán cartels

Posted on January 21st, 2014 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , .

MexicoMexican federal police arrested 38 people across violence-torn Michoacán state on Jan. 20, claiming a blow against the notorious Knights Templar drug cartel. Among those detained was Jesús Vázquez Macías AKA "El Toro"—claimed to be a top kingpin of the blood-drenched narco network. "El Toro" was apprehended in the port city of Lázaro Cárdenas, and flown to a prison in Veracruz state, far from his home turf. But Lázaro Cárdenas, one of Mexico's key Pacific ports and industrial hubs, was actually taken over by federal security forces back in November, ostensibly to protect it from the warring narco gangs. That El Toro apparently managed to remain at large in the city until now loans credence to the claims of Michoacán's vigilante network that the government is turning a blind eye to the drug lords. (AFP, BBC News, Milenio, Jan. 20; BN Americas, Jan. 10; Reuters, Jan. 1)

Mexican army clashes with 'community police' in Michoacán

Posted on January 16th, 2014 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , .

MexicoOn the night of Jan. 13, one day after "community police" gunmen seized several pueblos that had been controlled by the Knights Templar narco-gang in Mexico's west-central state of Michoacán, federal army troops were sent in to take back the villages from the vigilante force. "Community police" leaders say up to 12 of their men have been killed in clashes with the army. The bloodiest incident is reported from Antúnez pueblo, Parácuaro municipality—where a 17-year-old youth is said to be among seven dead. Mexico's National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) says it has confirmed the deaths of four at Antúnez, including a minor.  

Michoacán: 'community police' declare war on narcos

Posted on January 13th, 2014 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , .

MexicoSome 100 gunmen from a "community police" force in Mexico's Michoacán state on Jan. 12 seized the town of Nueva Italia—precipitating a shoot-out with gunmen from the Knights Templar cartel who had been in control there. Two members of the vigilante force were wounded before the Templares retreated, leaving the "community police" in control of thw town. It is unclear if there were casualties on the cartel's side. It seems there were no "official" police in the town, nor any army troops. Traveling in a convoy of pick-up trucks and armed with rifles, the "community police" also seized several hamlets in Parácuaro, Apatzingán and other municipalities—where several trucks and other vehicles deemed to belong to cartel collaborators were burned. Jan. 10 saw a confrontation for control of the municipal palace in the center of Apatzingán. The vigilantes also briefly set up a roadblock on the coastal highway, where more vehicles were stopped and burned—a total of 13 across the state in three days of violence.

Mexico: nine dead in prison massacre

Posted on January 6th, 2014 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , .

MexicoA "commando" of six gunmen gained access to a Mexican prison after midnight on Jan. 3, killed four inmates in their sleep, and then tried to shoot their way out, sparking a shoot-out with guards that left five of the attackers dead. The assialants infiltrated the Social Rehabilitation Center (CERESO) in Tuxpan, disguised in uniforms of the Guerrero state Ministerial  Police, telling guards they were bringing in a prisoner. Army troops were subsequently sent in to secure the facility. The slain inmates were said to be serving time for drug trafficking and kidnapping charges. (Borderland Beat, Jan. 4; BBC News, La Jornada, Jan. 3) This is the latest in a wave of cases of cartels taking their bloody turf wars to the inside of Mexico's prisons.

Mexico: new massacre strikes terror in Juárez

Posted on November 20th, 2013 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , .

MexicoA new massacre is reported from Ciudad Juárez, again raising fears of a return to the wave of deadly gangland violence that convulsed the Mexican border city for much of the past decade. Eight members of a single family—including two four-year-old girls and a six-year-old boy—were killed in their home Nov. 17 in the colonia (neighborhood) of Morelos Zaragoza. The bodies of the children were found on their beds, with multiple stab wounds, as were those of two young women. The two men were on armchairs, handcuffed and gagged. A two-month-old baby, known to have lived in the house, was not found among the dead. The family had been planning an event for their Jehova's Witnesses congregation when the attack took place. (Pulso, IOL, Proceso, Nov. 17)

Citizens challenge media silence on Matamoros war

Posted on November 13th, 2013 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , .

MexicoThree gun-battles in one day left at least 13 dead in the Mexican border city of Matamoros Nov. 2, Tamaulipas state authorities acknowledged. A statement from the Tamaulipas Coordination Group—the liaison office between state and federal forces—said two of the shoot-outs were between Mexican Marines and "armed civilians," the standard euphemism for cartel gunmen. One woman was among the 13 dead, who were also identified as "civilians"—leaving it unclear if they were combatants or by-standers. What press accounts called "narco-blockades" cut off traffic on the city's principal avenues. (Global Post, Crónica de Hoy, Nov. 4; Proceso, Nov. 3) Nov. 11 saw another outburst in the neighboring border city of Reynosa, with federal forces and presumed cartel gunmen having a high-speed shoot-out in a car chase through several neighborhoods. Allegedly, only one of the gunmen was killed, but video footage provided by the Facebook-coordinated network Valor por Tamaulipas showed a car overturned in road pile-up. (El Diario de Coahuila, Nov. 11)

Michoacán mayor murdered by Knights Templar?

Posted on November 9th, 2013 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , .

MexicoMexico is shocked by the murder of Mayor Ygnacio López Mendoza of Santa Ana Maya, Michoacán, who was found dead in his car in neighboring Guanajuato state Nov. 7.  Just last month, he made national news when he held a public hunger strike outside the Senate building in Mexico City for 18 days—demanding more money for his town because of the 10% cut being extorted by the Knights Templar narco gang on all municipal spending. Authorities initially said the death was a traffic accident, but this claim evaporated when the autopsy report indicated "asphyxia secondary to neck trauma"—suggesting strangulation. Pressed for details by the Association of Local Authorities of Mexico (AALMAC), the Guanajuato Prosecutor General's Office, which had conducted the autopsy, admitted that López Mendoza had been tortured before being killed. During his hunger strike, López told GlobalPost that he knew he could be killed at any time. "We are on the knife's edge," he said. "I can be talking with you here today and in a few weeks you could be reading my death notice."

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