Friday, April 30, 2010

International Day of the Child

The following is some statistics that help to further outline the enormity of the various problems that Mexico faces with regard to the upcoming generation and how this impacts the war on drugs waged by Calderón (with the full support of the United States).

- 36.7 % of the population is comprised of children (ages 17 and under), 17,941,677 girls and 18,372,372 boys.

- 7,351 children (under 15 years old) were murdered from 1991 to 2002 and today, an average of 2 children (under 15 years old) a day are murdered.

- 500,000 girls under the age of 20 years gave birth last year (including well publicized cases of 9 and 11 years olds giving birth last year).

- of the children who work, 72% receive no pay and 58% do not attend school.

- 1.2 million children between the ages of 5 and 14 do not go to school.

- 12.5% of children work

- 12% of all 12 to 17 year olds neither work nor study (in Mexico they are called "NiNis" (this is the fertile hiring ground for the narcos)

- 19 million children in Mexico are sexually exploited.

Finally, La Comisión de Derechos Humanos del Distrito Federal, (CDHDF) has stated that there are areas in the city of Mexico such as Insurgentes Avenue, Garibaldi, Tlalpan, and La Merced which harbour 14 districts that have young girls between the ages of 8 and 11 years old who are forced to prostitute themselves (and those ages are NOT typos).

These statistics were published in "El Universal" A4 April 30 2010 and were drawn from the following sources:

- Documentación de CIDAU, con información de: UNICEF, INEGI, DIF, OMS, Conapo, OCDE, Informe Nacional sobre Violencia y Salud, CNDH, CDHDF, Servicios de Salud, Secretaría del Trabajo, II Conteo de Población y Vivienda 2005, Red de los derechos por la infancia en México, Senado, Cámara de Diputados, OEA, Organización Pro-Niños centroamericanos y prensa local. 

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Drug Czar

I have met Gil Kerlikowske a couple of times, prior to his appointment as Drug Czar, and he is a very intelligent, articulate individual. But sometimes he needs help with his speech-writing as is seen in the following quote in relation to the findings that the more force used to enforce drug prohibition, the greater the increase in violence (unfortunately Mexico is a perfect example of this correlation):

"I don't know of any reason that legalizing something that essentially is bad for you would make it better, from a fiscal standpoint or a public health standpoint or a public safety standpoint," he said.

Clearly he must be aware that his statement is contradictory as well as factually incorrect with regard to many activities and vices that the government does, in fact, regulate rather than leaving the market to organized crime (prescription, medicine, alcohol, tobacco, driving, and more recently, the pending decision by California to control and regulate potato chips, chocolate bars and other junk food in its public schools).

Thus, in order to help with his speech-writing, I would suggest the following as a replacement for his facile statement (so as to avoid confusion, obfuscation and outright mendacity):

"The state will continue to abrogate its moral authority to protect its citizens from organized crime, dangerous substances and fiscal malfeasance"

I would suggest that this will help to clarify his position (and Gil, if you are reading this and would like further assistance with your speech-writing, please do not hesitate to contact me--wmm)

Back in the real world, the Ciudad Juárez had 16 narco-related murders yesterday, including a young teenager (2 of the attacks, including one at a mall, resulted in 8 people being killed). This brings the toll for the month of April, for just Juárez, to 167 dead and for the year 2010 is now 801.

Another gang-fight at the prison in Tamaulipas left 4 dead (2 men and 2 women) and 2 wounded. This brings the total number of prisoners killed in the last week to 8, including 4 who were transfered to the Mazatlán prison last Sunday. The four were accused of killing 2 police chiefs and another police officer as well as numerous other gangsters and innocents. They had been in the prison for only 15 minutes before a gang of other prisoners attacked them with home-made knives ( as well as real knives). 

Is this justice served? Not really as it should be borne in mind that the investigation prowess of the Mexican police is notoriously lacking and the 4 dead men might be guilty but all likely could have been innocent fall-guys for a failing system.

Speaking of the failing system, the Mexican Marines have arrested another 25 police officers in Acapulco (including 3 women police officers and 6 commanders) and who are now under investigation for criminal conduct and carrying non-issue weapons such as AK-47s and AR15s...which also happen to be the weapons of choice for Mexican hitmen.

Seriously, Gil, call me...let's talk.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

LEAP Letter in Washington Post

Check out this great letter to the editor in the Washington Post by LEAP speaker Eric Sterling.

An obstacle to D.C.'s medical marijuana law

By Eric E. Sterling
Silver Spring

The April 19 editorial “Medical marijuana” made a wise observation regarding the D.C. medical marijuana law — “critical details will need to be worked out in its implementation” — but did not mention the key obstacle: the federal drug law and the Drug Enforcement Administration opposition. The D.C. law and those of 14 states are messy because they need to work around federal law. D.C. and the states would benefit from DEA cooperation, not opposition stubbornly grounded on the Constitution’s supremacy clause.

Aside from the Mexican drug trafficking organizations, the big challenge for the next DEA administrator is to help the states and D.C. implement their medical marijuana laws. President Obama’s nominee, Michele M. Leonhart, has been at the top of DEA for seven years as deputy and acting administrator. Previously she was DEA special agent-in-charge in both San Francisco and Los Angeles. Since 1997, she has led DEA in resisting state medical marijuana laws. She lacks an essential qualification: a commitment to working with the states to implement these compassionate laws. The Senate Judiciary Committee should look closely at her record and her willingness to carry out that mission.

The writer is president of the Criminal Justice Policy Foundation.

Monday, April 26, 2010

BBC News - Give heroin on the NHS, says nursing leader

BBC News - Give heroin on the NHS, says nursing leader
"Drug addicts should be prescribed heroin on the NHS, a nursing leader says.

Peter Carter, general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), said the move would drive down crime rates while helping people off the drug."

I can see a lot of value in prescribing heroin to addicts. I have no doubt that it would decrease crime and would even cut heroin use over time. But what about complete legalization? It seems to me that people ought to have the right to use any substance, subject to reasonable regulations to ensure purity and to prevent children from using. How do others feel about this? Should heroin be prescribed only to addicts, freely available, or something in between? Any of the above would be much better than the current failed policy of prohibition.

Now politicians

Another politician was assassinated yesterday in Guerrero. Rey Hernández García, who was member of a small left-leaning political party, was assassinated by gunmen using AK-47s as he was leaving his house in the municipality of Ometepec, Guerrero. This is the second assassination of a politician in the state of Guerrero in less in a year as the PRD party lost Armando Chavarría (who was the president of the Governmental Commission for the Guerrero Congress) in August of 2009, as he was sitting in his vehicle in front of his house.

Six police officers of the municipality of Benito Juárez were arrested due to the fact that they had escorted a convoy of gunmen who attacked a military patrol last friday. Further, the police officers, in 3 patrol cars, tried to block reinforcements trying to come to the aid of their comrades being attacked. The efforts of the police officers to assist the gangsters was of little avail, as the gunmen suffered 5 dead while the rest fled.

In Guadalajara, Jalisco 6 people were murdered, one of whom was a security official while Faustino Limón Moreno, a police commander from Mazatlán, Sinaloa was assassinated by gunmen in 2 vehicles in a drive-by shooting.

In the municipality of Angostura the dismembered remains of Doroteo Quezada Medina was discovered as were the bodies of Juan Aguirre Rodríguez and Ramón Carrillo who had been shot (located on the Pericos-Badiraguato freeway). In Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, 3 women were murdered and another 6 women wounded at a wake while another woman was shot and killed in her house. 

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Now it's scary for everyone else - Part 2

The Minister for Security for the state of Michoacán, Minerva Bautista Gómez, was wounded in an ambush by narcos after she was leaving a public function. Two of her body-guards were killed as well as as a 60 year old man who happened to get caught in the crossfire and 9 others in her convoy were wounded. In a brazen act, the gunmen had stationed a stolen semi-trailer (stolen a few days prior) across the road, blocking the convoy's route. They then opened fire with AK 47s, AR15s, and at least one .50 Barret rifle, in a fight that left more than 500 shell casing scattered on the street. As well, the narco's threw fragmentation grenades that destroyed several vehicles. Five hours later, gunmen in at least two SUVs attacked a Michoacán police station as well, throwing grenades and firing off rounds that left buildings damaged but no one hurt.

In other parts of Mexico, the cartels orchrestrated 3 other attacks against federal forces, two in Nuevo León and the other in Guerrero as well attacking the international customs offices in Tamaulipas which caused six deaths. In the early hours of yesterday, gunmen attacked the customs office in Camargo, Tamaulipas (the border city next to Río Grande, Texas) causing US authorities to shut down the border crossing for a number of hours. In the city of San Nicolás, gunmen in attacked a military patrol with left one gunmen dead and two others detained. Two hours later, another group of gunmen, in a convoy of four vehicles, attacked a military vehicle which resulted in 5 gangsters killed while the rest escaped. Numerous grenades were tossed at a police station in the city of Unión, Guerrero, damaging the building and some vehicles.

All told there were 31 narco-deaths yesterday, including 3 dismembered bodies in Acapulco, 8 executions in Chihuahua, 4 in Michoacán, 3 in Tamaulipas, 2 in Tijuana, 2 in Nuevo León, and one each in SInaloa and Durango.

I imagine that the war against the drug gangs is nearly over, since according to Carlos Pascual, Fernando Francisco Gómez Mont, Filipe Calderón, the DEA etc, this coninuing violence on the part of the cartels is their swan-song, a measure of how desperate they are. So desperate, in fact, that they continue to successfully engage in strategic attacks against police (not just one or two officers but many at a time) and high level targets. Attacks that leave the victims dead and little or no casualties on the narco side, nor even successful investigations of the perpretrators. When an assassin is captured (and all too few of them) they are accused of killing 20, 30 or even 100 or 200 people...the police seem unable to stop then after they have only killed one or two.

It is nice to know that the government's forces are "winning". 

Canadian drug legislation on hold?

Walter McKay has been doing a fantastic job of holding the blog together. I'm thankful for that, particularly as I am swamped at the moment. I'm in the middle of a long stretch where I don't have any vacation time for a while.

The Canadian government is going through a cabinet level drug scandal at the moment. It's difficult to know if there is any substance to the allegations, and it's important to note that everyone is innocent until proven guilty. That said, the allegations themselves caused enough of a stir that the Prime Minister removed one of his cabinet ministers.

This spring, the government was expected to reintroduce legislation involving mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenders. I testified against this legislation, Bill C-15, last fall. However, in the current media climate, with allegations of cocaine use featured prominently in many newspapers, it is difficult to see the government increasing the penalties for drug offences.

It's ironic that unsubstantiated allegations may have done what all the scientific evidence in the world could not: derail the "ramping up" of the War on Drugs in Canada.

This is a painful way for a government to learn about drug policy.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Another Mexican politician wants legalization

The state governor of Veracruz, Fidel Herrera Beltrán, has called for the legalization of marijuana as one tool to reduce the narco-violence that plagues Mexico. He acknowledges that it is not a "silver bullet" that would eliminate the cartels or related violence (the straw man argument that many against legalization use to support their gossamer stance). But, he argues that it would be one approach to reducing the funds that fuel the carnage similar to the repealing of the prohibition of alcohol in the US initiated a reduction of violence in the '30s. He also added that with the legalization of marijuana would not come the unfettered free marketing of the drug by private business (as is the case with Nike or Coca-Cola...another facile bugaboo of the anti-legalization cohort) but that the state would have the responsibility to regulate and control it, as it does with pharmaceutical drugs, alcohol etc).

Speaking of narcos, a gunfight between a group of gunmen and the military left 8 gunmen dead and 3 soldiers wounded in San Dimas, Durango. Five bodies were discovered in a mini-van located in San Miguel El Alto, Jalisco, all bore signs of being tortured and each were subsequently killed with a single shot to the head.

Two police officers are missing in the municipality of Altar, Sonora. Their patrol vehicle was located empty, with the lights still on, parked on the freeway. And, lastly, a 50 year old English professor, Felix Duarte García, was executed in his house in Real de los Mochis, Sinaloa. 

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Now it's scary for everyone else

In the rich section of Monterrey City, Nuevo León, at least 30 gunmen blocked off streets and then "commandeered" 2 hotels, the Holiday Inn and the Misión, early yesterday morning. They searched several floors and hotel rooms, accompanied by someone with their hands bound (that the gunmen had brought with them) and then left with 7 hostages. The hostages were guests and businessmen from Mexico City and Reynosa, Tamaulipas. The gunmen also took the hotels' registration lists as well as their computers which contained guest data and security recordings.

It wasn't just kidnappings though, yesterday also had another 35 murders including 4 women (Chihuahua and Sonora), a girl of 9 years old (Guanajuato) and 2 boys, 16 and 17 years old (Chihuahua). Chihuahua was particularly deadly with 24 deaths, despite all the attention placed upon it by state and federal authorities. Cuernavaca, Morelos (a favorite vacation spot for many from Mexico City and which has a large ex-pat community of Americans and Canadians) added 2 more deaths to its growing count of narco-related murders and executions. 

This brings the total to 3,176 (4,176) for 2010. 

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

True to their word...

In the state of Nuevo León cartel gunmen attacked 4 more police officers from the municipality of Cadereyta. Fortunately, all four were only wounded. rather than killed. The alliance of La Familia, the Sinaloa and the Gulf cartels have threatened to kill 25 police officers in the state of Nuevo León due to Alliance's belief that these officers are working with the Zetas (they have already killed at least 20).

Jalisco saw 5 more murders while Sinaloa had 4 and Tijuana 2 as did Tamaulipas. A body was discovered on the highway between Mexico City and Acapulco and there were 3 killed in Durango. Meanwhile 2 banditos in Acapulco sprayed gunfire at 3 people, killing 2 and wounding the third.

All in all 29 people were killed yesterday in narco related violence, which brings the yearly total to 3,141 (4,141) 

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Another Prisoner Breakout

Once again there are reports of a group of prisoners in the the city of Tenancingo, Mexico State, escaping. The 8 prisoners were in jail for murder, robbery and other crimes related to organized crime when they destroyed a wall that seperated their cell from an adjacent hotel Monday afternoon and fled to freedom. 

The narco-aliance I mentioned in an earlier blog, between La familia, the Cartel Golfo and the Sinaloa cartel against the Zetas, has erected banners indicating that they are going to be murdering another 20 police officers who they think are working on behalf of the Zetas. Since February of this year they have already killed 25 police officers in the state of Nuevo León, whom they charge with working on behalf of the Zetas.

The killings continue, with another 22 added yesterday which now brings the total 3,112 (4,112).  

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Saturday, April 17, 2010

3050 (4050)

My numbers will try to reflect reality, if that is possible in any real sense, by adding 1000 to that provided by El Universal (this is my rough calculation of how many more deaths that the government figures displayed last week). This is an approximation but then again, we will never really know how many died because neither the government nor the media count those who "disappear" as part of the dead (regardless of the fact that they are never seen again).

39 people were killed yesterday for a total of 3050 (4050) for the year. This includes 9 police officers, including one who was the head of the police department in Hidalgo, Michoacán while another was a comandante for Jalisco. Two of the police officers where killed in their patrol car and had a note stating that they had been cooperating with the Zetas while the comandante was gunned down as he was leaving his house.

Six men were killed by a grenade attack in Valle de Allende, Chihuahua while in Durango a head was left in a beer-cooler, and another 8 bodies were discovered, all showing signs of being executed.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Spy Games

Soldiers in Cancún, Quintana Roo, discovered highly sophisticated tracking equipment in an apartment in downtown Cancún. Equipment for tracing telephones, cell phones and radio transmissions, apparently from Israel, were located in an apartment owned by a former municipal council member, Manuel Vera Salinas (he was also a former police academy director). Records discovered in the unit indicated that politicians, business people and reporters were all being tracked by this clandestine spy operations center that was capable of intercepting, tracking and recording conversations.

Unfortunately, on the other end of the country in the city of Juárez, 10 Federal Police officers were arrested for extortion. They are being investigated for demanding money from businesses and street-sellers. In one case, a police officer was demanding 50,000 pesos per month from a street-seller selling pirated DVDs (that works out to about 4500 USD). The poor citizens of Juárez, if they are not being killed they are being preyed upon by either the criminals, the police or both.

Also in Juárez, activists say that the number of "femicides" (killing of women) has increased since the arrival of the army. In 2009 there were 184 femicides, the highest rate since 1993.

The business community in Acapulco, Guerrero is asking for government assistance to help improve the image problems that have plagued this resort area. The 30 murders last month during Spring Break and the recent international sensation of 6 people being gunned down on the main street of Acapulco (including a woman and her 10 year old and 8 year old children that she had just picked up from school) in broad daylight have the hotel owners fearing that they could lose business (there doesn't seem to be much concern for the death of the innocents nor of the 6 youths who had been stacked like cordwood near the main highway from Acapulco to Mexico City. They had their hands and feet bound and they were each executed with a single shot to the head, their ages were: 15, 16, 17, 18, 20 and 21).
Yesterday, 3 more police officers were gunned down, 2 in San Luis Potosí and the other one in Nuevo León while a gunbattle in Camargo, Tamaulipas left 4 dead. 

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Change in numbers for April 15 2010

One possibility as to why it is so hard to get information and/or statistics from the Mexican government is that they are not flattering. A recent example of this concerns the rate of homicides in relation to Calderón's war on drugs. The news all around Mexico, aside from Michelle Obama's visit, is the confidential report that was leaked to Associated Press. The government's figures provide a far more harsher picture of the bloodletting that plagues Mexico than we had supposed. Most sources (including myself) rely on the daily counts of narco-killings that are tabulated by such newspapers as "Reforma" or "El Universal" and the number of narco-deaths since the start of this war is often quoted from 18,000 to 19,000. And, as you can see in my previous post, I had a count of 2,898 deaths by April 12th as a total for 2010.
These are not accurate, for, according to the leaked report, 22,743 people have been killed since Calderón's initiative in 2007 (2,837 in 2007, 6844 in 2008 and 9635 in 2009)
Further, according to the leaked government document 3,365 people have been killed in the months of January, February and March of this year (an average of close to 38 per day). Thus, my count for the first 3 months was around 600 bodies short, and going with an average of 38 killings a day, the present total for 2010 is 3,932.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


According to an investigator with the Federal Police, Raymond Pequeno, the Zetas now control up to 80% of Tamaulipas and their former employer, the Gulf cartel, has now joined up with its former enemies, the Sinaloa cartel and La Familia
Michoacana in order to defeat the Zetas.
For those of you not aware, the Zetas were birthed from a previous US war on drugs effort in the 90s when US military personnel trained Mexican special forces on counter-insurgency and drug warrior tactics (does this sound familiar?). These newly-trained, US-approved drug warriors then switched sides, offering their services to the Gulf cartel as bodyguards, enforcers, and assassins. Now, a decade later the Zetas have become powerful in their own right and have branched out to create their own bonafide cartel, an organization that has seen WalMart-like expansion in the last few years such that the other cartels are now threatened. So much so, that they have even displayed public banners telling President Calderón to remove the army so that they can eliminate the Zetas. I guess they regard the military as more of a nuisance rather than a threat to their operations.

And the killing still continue, regardless of the intense rhetoric on both sides of the border, with 31 added to the yearly total now at 2,898.  

Monday, April 12, 2010

Re-post from Frontera-List

Note: this is a re-posting of a massacre that has taken place in the town of Creel, Chihuahua, and was captured on security cameras, an event that occurred over 90 minutes. Molly Molloy, who hosts Frontera-List, is a researcher with a keen interest in the northern states of Mexico, particularly Ciudad Juárez. The original Spanish article is below the English translation. WMM.

Thanks to Susan for this link and translation.  m.

Creel is a village. The very Command and Control center whose camera/s
recorded this atrocity is located in Creel. I wonder if one of the guys in these pictures is also the CIPOL police agent who was recently arrested, along with several others, for the minor offense of assault/robbery................ there have been no apparent leads, investigations,or arrests in this or any other massacre or the numerous forced disappearances taking place in the Sierra Madre, in and around Creel.

Cipol Narcovideo broadcast by Denise Maerker  where masked commando
massacres 9 member of Creel family without any response from state
government Chihuahua.

This Thursday, Denise Maerker, anchor of the Televisa program Punto de
Partida, broadcast a chilling 7 minute narcovideo that has flown around the world. In the video recorded by the Police Intelligence Control Center (Cipol) (Cuerpo de Inteligenica Policial) also (Control de Investigacion, Prevencion, Operacion y Logistica) in Creel, a dozen gunmen arrive in the village and with complete impunity massacre 9 members of a businessman's family, including a 14 year-old adolescent.

The events took place at sunrise on March 15, where several major massacres have occurred. During almost 90 minutes, the video in the possession of Punto de Partida clearly records the faces of the bad guys, including when they consume cocaine almost by the handfuls from a plastic bag. Additionally, they can be observed beating and terrorizing drivers who happened to pass by the scene of the crime in their vehicles. All of the details of the slaughter by dozens of mercenaries aboard a dozen SUV's, were taped by the State Police and as Denise Maerker did well to question, not a single authority did anything to pursue the assassins. 

Governor Reyes Baeza has maintained silence regarding this case, which illustrates the savage and brutal un-governability of the State.


El Gobernador Reyes Baeza ha guardado silencio sobre este caso que
ilustra la salvaje y brutal ingobernabilidad del Estado.

> Publicado el 09 Abril 2010
> Recorre el mundo narcovideo de Cipol difundido por Denisse Merker donde comando encapuchado masacra 9 integrantes de una familia en Creel sin que gobierno estatal haga algo
> CHIHUAHUA.- El dolor de estómago es una epidemia en Palacio.
> Este jueves, la conductora del programa Punto de Partida en Televisa, Denisse Merker, difundió un escalofriante narcovideo de siete minutos, que ha dado la vuelta al mundo.
> En el video grabado por el Centro de Mando de Cipol en Creel, una docena de sicarios llega al poblado y en total impunidad, masacra 9 integrantes de la familia de un empresario, entre ellos una adolescente de 14 años.
> Los hechos fueron al amanecer del 15 de marzo en ese poblado, donde ya han ocurrido otras matanzas mayores.
> Durante casi 90 minutos, el video en poder de Punto de Partida graba claramente los rostros de los maleantes, incluso cuando consumen cocaína casi a puños de una bolsa de plástico.Además se observa como golpean y atemorizan a los conductores que pasan en sus vehículos por la escena del crimen.
> Todos los detalles de la matanza por decenas de mercenarios a bordo de una docena de camionetas, fueron grabados por la Policía Estatal y como bien cuestionó Denisse Merker, ninguna autoridad hizo nada para perseguir a los asesinos.
> El Gobernador Reyes Baeza ha guardado silencio sobre este caso que ilustra la salvaje y hrutal ingobernabilidad del Estado.


Sunday, April 11, 2010

Peter Christ: promoting drug policy reform for nearly two decades.

Buffalo News columnist Donn Esmonde notes that LEAP speaker Peter Christ has been promoting drug policy reform for nearly 20 years:
You would think he would be discouraged. I first talked to Peter Christ (rhymes with ‘wrist’) nearly 20 years ago. He is hardly any further along in the fight now than he was then. But there is no weariness in his words, no sag in his step. Keeping the faith is easier, I guess, when you believe that common sense is on your side and an ever-growing mountain of evidence argues in your favor.
Nice work, Peter.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Fruitless Endeavors

President Calderón has announced that the army will slowly be withdrawn from the streets and returned to its barracks as the freshly purged, newly trained and better equipped Federal Police are brought in to act, once again, as domestic security.

But has anything changed since Calderón's December 2006 initiative, his all-out war against the drug cartels?

The short is: "yes" things have changed, but for the worse.

First, the police are still vulnerable to corruption because of the poor pay, widespread impunity and insufficient "Internal Affair" offices. Further, with no civilian oversight, no mechanisms of accountability nor transparency, the citizens of Mexico have no means to gauge how well the police operate. In fact, the communities of Mexico are still in grave danger because the police are now better trained and have better weapons to commit crimes and work on behalf of the cartels. From the community's point of view, one large group of well-armed men in uniforms being is replaced by another large group of well-armed men in uniforms.

Second, intelligence sources in the US are now starting to say that, after 3 years of unbelievable bloodshed, one cartel is now in a dominant position, the Sinaloa cartel headed by Joaquín "Chapo" Guzmán. Before President Calderón's war on drugs there were several powerful cartels that ensured their control through violence, corruption of the police and politicians as well as dealing very harshly with anyone who crossed them. Now, after the deaths of nearly 20,000 people there is one mega-cartel which will ensure its control through violence, corruption of the police and politicians as well as dealing very harshly with anyone who crosses it. Thus, through a Hobbesian evolution, Guzmán's organization has no competition and, as a bonus, has, at its disposal, a very experienced, well-trained, well-equipped cadre of gangsters willing to do anything they are told (and who may, or may not be in uniform).

If this is indeed the outcome then I would argue that the tens of billions of dollars invested by the Calderón government to bring about this state of affairs is money that could otherwise have been spent on education, job training and infrastructure. Calderón should have waged a war on poverty, or a war on unemployment, because, aside from the tens of thousands of sons, brothers, fathers, sisters, mothers and daughters killed in the most gruesome fashion, Mexico has gained nothing other than more dangerous threat.

It is true that the violence will drop, it will recede back into the shadows, but the reality is that the communities are not any safer, Mexico is not any safer, the US is not any safer and, the certainly world is not any safer by such outcomes.

To punctuate this, another 22 were killed yesterday bringing the total to 2825 for 2010 with an average of almost 29 per day. This includes an incident where 80 to 100 narcos took over an entire town, terrorized the citizens for over 5 hours and burned the State Police station to the ground in Yécora, Sonora.

Thursday, April 8, 2010


The National Institute for Women, in Mexico, released data obtained under the Freedom of Information Act that revealed in the year 2008 nearly 28 thousand women working in federal government agencies have experienced sexual assault. That translates into 138 a day (for 200 working days a year) or, for an 8 hour work day, 17 sexual assaults per hour. Of these, only 7796 were reported to authorities, a mere 28%, because of fear of reprisals and/or losing their job for "making waves".

Meanwhile, the new Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Alan Bersin, has gotten off to a very inauspicious start with his uneducated comment that legalizing marijuana would herald the end of the drug cartels. His rebuttal to the legalisation question is disengenous at best (and is based upon a "strawman argument").

ONE of the arguments for the legalisation of marijuana (amongst many) is that it would reduce the amount of illicit income that flows to the drug cartels, no one has said that it would mean the demise of the cartels. HOWEVER, I am sure that there would be an impact to the Mexican drug cartels if 40% of their financing through the sale of marijuana to the millions of willing purchasers in the US (part of a 40 to 60 dollar billion dollar market) was eliminated. All level-headed thinkers recognise that other illicit forms of income (such as prostitution, gambling, smuggling, extortion, etc) would remain in place.

But, if Mr Bersin wants to be simplistic, then I would like to note to him, that it is solely due to his government's drug policy (prohibition) that enables the tens of billions of US dollars to flow to the Mexican drug cartels....a policy that is within that government's power to reverse.

I hope this was simple enough to be clear

Fundraiser to send LEAP speaker Tony Smith to Ottawa

LEAP has organized an online fundraiser to send Canadian LEAP speaker Tony Smith to the national capital of Ottawa. The purpose of the trip is for him to meet with politicians and convince them not to go down the U.S. road of mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenders. The goal is to reach $2000 by April 16th.

A little about Amercia's northern neighbour: geographically, Canada is the second largest country in the world (with Russia being the largest). Although still basking in the glow from the Vancouver Winter Olympics, the nation will also be hosting the G8 & G20 summits in Ontario this June. Canada is one of the healthiest and safest countries in the world, and yet its citizens still suffer unnecessarily from the twin scourges of drug prohibition and drug abuse. Successful drug policy reform in Canada would certainly be noticed in the United States and around the globe.

This trip is one aspect of a larger effort currently underway to expand LEAP's presence in Canada, and I'm very excited to see how it turns out.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Inching up

The daily average for killings is slowly increasing. With 27 added yesterday for a yearly total of 2,681 narco-related deaths the daily average is close to 29 per day. This includes an ambush on a patrol car that left 2 police officers dead and 2 missing (one of whom is a commander) in San Fernando, Tamaulipas. As is far to usual, I expect the bodies of these too missing officers to show up in the next few days with signs of torture and executed.

As well in Tamaulipas, a military garrison in Tampico was attacked by cartel members using hand grenades, fortunately there was no dead nor injured. Six people were executed in the vacation spot of Mazatlán and another 5 in Sonora as they were travelling in a car while 5 more people were killed in Ciudad Juárez.

The governor of Tamaulipas, Eugenio Hernández Flores is requesting assistance from  the federal government with respect to safe-guarding the state prisons after the 2 recent jailbreaks that saw 41 prisoners escape on March 25th in Matamoros and another 13 escape on April 3rd from the prison in Reynosa. Hernández admits that the state lacks the resources to ensure adequate prisons. The April 3rd escape involved an half hour firefight between cartel members and the prison guards, with 8 of the guards now under investigation for assisting the escape of the 13 prisoners. Another 42 prison guards, including 8 women, are under investigation for the March 25th escape in Matamoros.

Meanwhile, in Monterrey, Nuevo León, 105 police officers were fired for failing drug-tests, polygraphs, human rights violations and providing information to the drug cartels. Another 92 police officers are still under investigation and may be fired as well.
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