#Narconoia Update: Apr. 25, 2014

Danny Benavides
April 25, 2014


As the May 10 deadline for the disarmament/demobilization/disbanding of vigilantes approaches in Michoacán, committed self-defense groups continue operations to eliminate all traces of Los Caballeros Templarios from their communities. In the background of this, rival cartels seek to fill the black market void, disloyal vigilantes threaten peace and stability, and Mexico’s government removes a silk glove to reveal its iron fist.

Incompetence and impotence at maintaining order poses a significant problem for the government of Peña Nieto amid its PR campaign to attract foreign investment and “reforms” of its energy and telecommunications industries. To address these security shortcomings, the U.S. defense establishment has approved enormous military and surveillance equipment sales to maintain the subserviance of its Mexican couterparts, urging further “security cooperation” to combat cartels and corruption. Consider this all the continuation of the Mérida Initiative from the Calderón administration.

On this side of the border, U.S. agencies and law enforcement authorities proceed with their own “border surge,” militarizing more of the region, deploying additional agents into the fields, and expanding operations to all corners of the Earth.

Plus, corrupt cops in the pocket of cartels, narco-politics, and more.


Michoacán autodefensas push on to apprehend “La Tuta”

Mexico Councilmen Describe Life of Fear Under Knights Templar via Michael Lohmuller @ InSight Crime [some details of the systemic corruption of local officials conspiring with the Caballeros Templarios cartel]

“Disarmament” of Self-Defense Groups – Complex and Complicated via Arturo Cano @ La Jornada/Mexico Voices [translated by Jane Brundage]

Townspeople Tell of Government Betrayal of Self-Defense Force via Arturo Cano @ La Jornada/Mexico Voices [another excellent piece from Cano, translated by Jane Brundage]

Outside Drug Cartels, Rogue Vigilantes Set Sights on Michoacan via James Bargent and Armando Cordoba @ InSight Crime [some analysis corroborating reports linked in previous editions of this #Narconoia Update]

Autodefensas Surround Templarios Leader La Tuta via Chivís Martínez @ Borderland Beat [a must-read!... Always excellent reporting from the proprietor of BB.]

Mexican vigilantes search caves for cartel leader @ Associated Press/The Salt Lake Tribune

The impact of cartel crime

Mexico’s lost daughters: how young women are sold into the sex trade by drug gangs via Jennifer Clement @ The Observer [an article from February I had missed, but came to my attention thanks to a repost at Borderland Beat... a thoughtful work of journalism well worth your time.]

Violence Against Media Report Shows Continued Impunity in LatAm via Michael Lohmuller @ InSight Crime

The Northern Triangle: The Countries That Don’t Cry for Their Dead via Suchit Chavez and Jessica Avalos @ La Prensa Grafica/InSight Crime [translated by ISC staff]

“The Real Border Wars” Conference: Innocent People in the Crossfire of Cartel Violence via Ashly Custer @ Valley Central KGBT

Cop corruption and cartel criminal justice in the “Constitution-Free Zone”

Sheriff’s guilty plea could affect civil lawsuit via Ildefonso Ortiz @ The Monitor

Feds: Houston officer agreed to escort drug loads via Dane Schiller @ Houston Chronicle

Weslaco-based drug trafficker El Gallo admits to vast drug distribution network via Ildefonso Ortiz @ The Monitor

Gulf Cartel member gets life in prison via Ildefonso Ortiz @ The Monitor

Man convicted in U.S. consulate slayings gets 10 life sentences via Diana Washington Valdez @ El Paso Times

Mexican gang leader gets life term for U.S. consulate killings via Tim Johnson @ McClatchy News

The New World Border

Homeland Security Investigations broadens scope of border investigations via Todd Feathers @ Muckrock

Border Patrol to Arivaca, Arizona: “You Have No Rights Here” via Alexandra Woodfin @ Panam Post’s The Canal blog

U.S. Border Patrol Agents Ramp Up Efforts in Valley via Julián Aguilar @ The Texas Tribune [over a hundred new agents join a surveillance blimp as part of a DHS "South Texas Campaign" militarization initiative]

Customs and Border Protection refuses to disclose what its drone was doing when it crashed near San Diego via Shawn Musgrave @ Muckrock

Who Will Watch the Watchers? via Nate Blakeslee @ Texas Monthly [an excellent long-read!]

Drugwar deals

More surveillance cameras for Mexico City via Richard Tomkins @ UPI [Mexico's richest person, Carlos Slim Helú gets to line his pockets even more as its capital city embraces the surveillance state approach]

Mexico requests Black Hawk helicopters via Richard Tomkins @ UPI [part of a USD$680 million sale for counter-narcotics operations, demonstrating a Calderon-ish escalation of the militarized drugwar in Mexico under Peña Nieto, despite PR efforts to downplay the reliance on Mexico's military in the absence of trustworthy police forces]

Hagel seeking to deepen US-Mexico ties via Robert Burns @ Associated Press [this so-called security cooperation not only includes enormous sales of weapons and materiel, but also more training of Mexican troops]

Mexico: Open for business, but not for internet speech

The fracking divide: Mexico’s oil frontier beckons U.S. drillers in wake of new law via Nick Miroff @ The Washington Post

Hundreds in Mexico protest telecommunications law @ Associated Press/Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Mexico Government Playing Games With Telecommunications Bill via Julio Hernández López @ La Jornada/Mexico Voices

Protests Mount Against Mexico’s Proposed Telecommunications Law, Which Would Bring In Censorship, Allow Real-time Surveillance And Kill Net Neutrality via Glyn Moody @ Techdirt [a further step towards surveillance state tyranny in Mexico, as the Peña Nieto administration enacts "reforms" to court foreign investors... Though this expanded power will likely prove especially useful for Mexico City to suppress, silence, and blackout media (and social media) during military operations or other high-risk "security" situations, also thereby tightening control over the ability of vigilante groups to communicate and coordinate]


And below is a presentation titled “The Politics of Crime in Mexico: Democratic Governance in a Security Trap” from the Woodrow Wilson Center’s Mexico Institute. While I disagree with some of the points made — I’d caution anyone interested in this subject matter to be wary of Mexico’s official statistics and reaching conclusions based on this data (and this problem is briefly raised in this talk) — this is an intelligent discussion with insightful and informative commentary — definitely worth 90 minutes of your time.