Wednesday 30 May 2012

Custodian of Guadalajara’s Puente Grande prison executed in El Salto

May 30. Ricardo Solano Díaz, 34, the custodian of the second unit of the “Federal de Reinserción Social de Puente Grande” prison just outside of Guadalajara, was murdered on Wednesday, May 30, in El Salto, only 200 metres from an entrance to the facility.

Mr. Solano Díaz was inside a cybercafe that also doubled as a stationary store located in the Arroyo Hondo and Agua Blanca neighbourhood when four armed men entered the business and shot him in the back.

The scene outside the cybercafe

They fled in a black compact car with Mexico City (Distrito Federal) license plates, which was later found about one kilometre from the attack.

After the attack, Mr. Solano Díaz’s body was left crumpled over the store counter. He had been shot at least five times. Municipal Police and Red Cross arrived shortly later, but could only confirm his death.

Jalisco’s Institute of Forensic Sciences (IJCF) removed the body and transferred it to the morgue. According to Mexican law an autopsy must be conducted after a suspected murder before a body can be retrieved by relatives.

(TE Wilson is the author of Mezcalero, a Detective Sánchez novel.)

Twitter: @TimothyEWilson
Email: lapoliticaeslapolitica [at] gmail [dot] com

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Violence continues to rage in Acapulco as six more die

May 30. The violence in Acapulco is continuing, with at least six people having been killed in the early hours and morning of May 30, according to official reports.

Included among the victims are a newspaper employee and two women and three men. The dead were riddled with bullets, with “narcomessages” left on their bodies, suggesting that the violence is related to ongoing gang disputes.

Three of the bodies were dumped in black bags

The violence was spread throughout the city, including a severed head that was left at the Marina Beach condominium complex in the exclusive Diamond Zone.

Monday 28 May 2012

Man murdered in broad daylight in Cruz de Huanacaxtle

May 28. A man was murdered in broad daylight in Cruz de Huanacaxtle, a town in the municipality of Bahia de Banderas, north of the resort town of Puerto Vallarta.

He was shot on Atún street between Tiburón y SirenaThe murder occurred  the morning of Monday, May 28, near the the town’s health clinic. The first calls to police came at 11.25 a.m.

Scenic La Cruz, where the streets are named after marine life

The victim was hit in the head with bullets from an AK-47 rifle. Four 7.62 x 39 mm casings from an AK-47 were found at the scene.

Terrified residents ran, ducked for cover, and threw themselves to the ground after hearing a number of gunfire bursts.

Witnesses saw two white vans speeding away from the scene of the crime, leaving behind the body of a man identified so far only as “Chatillo” due to a tattoo on his chest. Another tattoo on his left shoulder said “santa muerte” (holy death).

Directly after the shooting, some frightened residents ran to local schools to pick up their children - the murder occurred near the Emiliano Zapata elementary school. Other citizens temporarily shuttered their businesses. A few minutes after the gunfire was heard police patrols showed up, sirens wailing.

The dead man was wearing a red shirt, blue jeans, and brown boots. He was estimated to be between 27 and 35 years of age.

The deceased had no identification on him. However, a yellow envelope was found, as is commonly used by banks, suggesting he may have been robbed of some cash.

(NB - This post has been rejected by some local message boards, as it is seen as alarmist and irrelevant to the purpose of community boards devoted to activities, restaurant reviews, advice, notices etc. As well, basic crime information is available in the Spanish-language press, and this is deemed sufficient. La politica posted directly after the La Cruz event first came to light, early in the  afternoon of March 28, in the hopes of warning the people in La Cruz and any others who might be headed that way.) 

(TE Wilson is the author of Mezcalero, a Detective Sánchez novel.)

Twitter: @TimothyEWilson
Email: lapoliticaeslapolitica [at] gmail [dot] com

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Bucerias bank manager murdered

May 28. The lifeless body of a Bucerias bank manager was found on Sunday, May 27, in the Aurora neighbourhood on the road to Pitillal near Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.

(In related news, on May 28 a man was gunned down by an AK-47 in broad daylight in Cruz de Huanacaxtle near Bucerias. Message board moderators are not posting this, perhaps for fear of raising alarm, but we feel people have a right to know. Please pass on and post - we believe people in La Cruz would like to be informed. )

At about 6:20 pm Mexican police began receiving reports that a lifeless male subject, José Santana Caro Ortega, 47, was found in apartment #23 in building 2004-A in the Aurora area.

Sunday 27 May 2012

Brad Will’s alleged killer has been in custody in Mexico since March

May 27. Lenin Emilio Osorio Ortega, the alleged murderer of the American journalist Bradley Roland Will, was arrested on March 9, 2012, not on May 23 as previously stated by the governor of the state of Oaxaca, Gabino Cué Monteagudo, as well as by that state’s attorney general, Manuel de Jesús López.

On Monday the 23rd both the governor and the attorney general said in interviews that Osorio Ortega had been detained that day at about 7:30 in the morning. They said that his arrest came after over a year of investigation.

Saturday 26 May 2012

Guanajuato arrests fifteen alleged cartel members

May 26. The Attorney General of the state of Guanajuato, Mexico, Carlos Zamarripa Aguirre, has paraded before the press fifteen alleged cartel members arrested in twelve raids.

The raids were conducted in León, Purisima, Yuriria and San Francisco del Rincón.  The arrested are allegedly members of two different cartels: ten from "Cártel de Jalisco Nueva Generación " (Jalisco New Generation, or CJNG), and five from "La Familia Michoacana" (The Michoacan Family), possibly including also members of the rival off-shoot "Los Caballeros Templarios" (The Knights Templar).

Zamarripa confirmed that the arrests related to a cartel dispute over the León territory or “plaza”, and that they involved at least twelve recent crimes, including several kidnappings.

Friday 25 May 2012

Acapulco mayhem continues: six dead , including mother and child killed at police checkpoint

May 25. Six people were shot and killed in the Acapulco metropolitan area over a brief period yesterday, including a minor and one woman. Four people were also injured – one of whom was a federal police officer.

Armed men also torched some cars in a junk yard. No casualties were reported in that incident.

According to officials at the state and municipal levels, as well as the Federal Secretariat of Public Security, the first shooting in Acapulco occurred around 4:07 pm in the Emiliano Zapata neighbourhood.

Only minutes later, in the same neighbourhood but this time near the community’s Social Security office, there was more gunfire, with additional shots then reported shortly after in the La Sabana neighbourhood – a more rural area about 21 kilometres away on highway 200.

Wednesday 16 May 2012

Five executions in Guadalajara area

Within an eight hour period five bodies of people believed to have to have been executed have been found in the Guadalajara area.

The municipalities where the bodies were found include San Pedro Tlaquepaque, El Salto and Tlajomulco de Zúñiga.

On the morning of Wednesday, May 16, a man was found shot dead in Tlajomulco de Zúñiga. The body was found in the El Zapote community, in the Las Animas area behind the Guadalajara airport.

The "escudo", or coat-of-arms, for Tlajomulco

The man appears to have been approximately 25 years old. He was wearing a white tank top, blue denim pants, and white sneakers. He was wrapped in packing tape.

Acapulco death toll mounts

In the early hours of Wednesday, May 16, three men were shot near Puerto Marqués, Acapulco.

Their bodies were discarded in the town’s main thoroughfare, behind a taxi stand next to the "Instituto Leonardo Bravo".

According to authorities, the murders occurred at approximately 6:35 a.m. An anonymous caller notified police that the men had been shot “in head and body” and dumped on the street.

According to some witnesses, the bodies were tossed from a taxi belonging to the “Ignacio Allende” cab company operating in the municipality of Cruz Grande. They were found next to a Nissan Tsuru (see photo).

The victims

According to federal authorities, apparently the taxi driver was shot, and then two passengers – one in the passenger front seat, and the other in the back – were violently removed from the vehicle and then each shot at least twice in the head and three times in the back.

Monday 14 May 2012

From Jalisco to Tamaulipas, Los Zetas’ days are numbered

The drug war that has raged in Mexico for five and half years, and that has claimed more than 50,000 lives, has been in the news of late: 23 bodies found hanging from a bridge or decapitated and dumped near city hall in Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas (May 6); 18 bodies found outside the city of Guadalajara, Jalisco (May 9); and 49 bodies dumped on the side of a highway between Monterrey and the U.S. border,  in the state of Nuevo Leon (May 13).

The rationale for this extreme violence is, in a very broad sense, easy to understand: the Mexican government has militarized the conflict, and the cartels have responded by fighting for their lives.

Tuesday 8 May 2012

Canadian ties lead to more thorough investigation of Carmen Ximena Osegueda murder

In announcing progress in the investigation into the murder of the Mexican-Canadian Carmen Ximena Osegueda and her Mexican companion, Alvarado Alejandro Santamaria, authorities in the state of Oaxaca, Mexico, alluded to the “national and even international” focus “because the young woman, born in our country, also had Canadian citizenship.”

Mexican authorities have now concluded that Ms. Ximena Osegueda, 39, a University of British Columbia graduate student, and Mr. Santamaria, 38, were victims of a gang-related theft and murder. It is believed the two were killed on, or shortly after, December 14, 2011.

At a press conference, Attorney General for the State of Oaxaca, Manuel de Jesus Lopez Lopez, alluded to reports that Canadian tourists might boycott the resort area of Huatulco, near where the crime was committed.

The original "missing" posted for Carmen and Alejandro

Citing the assistance of Mexico’s federal Attorney General’s Office (PGR), the Oaxacan authorities said that they had detained five gang members, among them three women, and that three others are still on the run.

Specific to the murders, the prosecutor said that those who allegedly took the lives of the couple were: Oscar Geovany Ibarra Diego; Juan Carlos Solís García (or Juan Carlos Caballero García); Armando Escamilla Mejía; and Omar Rosalino García Fuentes.

Oscar Ibarra Geovany Diego is in custody, and the remaining three are still fugitives.

The other four who are already in detention are: Nardy Antares Durán Castillo; Mitzy Daniela Castillo Cruz; Araceli Ivett Casco Estrada; and Irasema Sánchez Santa Rosa.

Authorities noted that the capture of Oscar Geovany Ibarra Diego, known as “El Munrra”, resulted from cooperation between federal and state police.

They also said that statements from detainees led police to where Carmen and Alejandro were buried, near Punta Arena, Huatulco.

However, the CBC had earlier reported that it was Ximena Osegueda Magana's ex-husband, Jacy Wright, as well as her brother, who located the bodies with the aid of a dog Wright had purchased for Carmen to keep her safe.

Carmen and Alejandro were last seen in a red two-door 2012 Chevrolet compact in the Punta Arena area. The brand new car had no license plates, but did have a GPS system.

Soon after her disappearance Carmen’s family's house near Punta Arena was ransacked, but with no sign of forced entry, suggesting that the thieves were in possession of her keys. 20,000 pesos (C$1,500) was also withdrawn using the couple’s bank cards.

Within a week of their disappearance officials tracked the vehicle via its GPS, finding it in the colonial City of Oaxaca, 350 kilometres from Huatulco.

The organizational chart for the gang

Inside that vehicle, investigators discovered a sales receipt from a butcher shop nearby. The shop had closed-circuit camera, and investigators established that the purchase was made by Enrique Calderón Cabrera, an old boyfriend of Rosita Castillo, both of whom have since been murdered.

The investigation has also expanded to include the murder of another gang member, Salvador Leyva Alvarado.

Calderón Cabrera and Castillo were killed execution-style, with their bodies dumped earlier this year en route to the Monte Alban archeological and tourist site.

Leyva Alvarado’s body was found at an address know to be used by the gang. Authorities believe all three were murdered as a result of scores being settled within the gang.

(TE Wilson is the author of Mezcalero, a Detective Sánchez novel.)

Twitter: @TimothyEWilson
Email: lapoliticaeslapolitica [at] gmail [dot] com

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Sunday 6 May 2012

Interpol central to Lucier arrest in Mexico

One of the most wanted cocaine traffickers in Canada was arrested in Nayarit, Mexico, on Wednesday, May 2nd. This is a clear indication that Canadian and Mexican authorities are ramping up their coordination in tracking organized crime.

Nicholas Michael Lucier, 44, a Vancouver Island native, was picked up on an international warrant that was issued in September 2009 after he’d skipped parole for a cocaine trafficking conviction.

The Secretary General of Government in Nayarit, Jose Trinidad Espinosa Vargas, told the Mexican press that it was the collaboration between the Attorney General of the State (PGJE) and Interpol that led to Lucier’s arrest.

 (Go here for a video of Lucier being paraded before the Mexican press). 

Espinosa Vargas also alluded to a strong relationship between Interpol and the federal Attorney General’s office in Mexico, or “PGR”, which, he said, was highly responsive to requests for assistance from his office in Nayarit.  

In Mexico, the PGR acts as prosecutor for federal crimes, and is better-resourced that its state counterparts. Nayarit, a popular tourist destination on the Pacific coast, is one of Mexico’s smaller states. It borders the state of Jalisco to the south.

 Espinosa Vargas - Helped out by Interpol, the PGR, and (maybe) the RCMP

Lucier, who was going by the alias Corry Corbett, was captured just outside Nuevo Vallarta, north of the resort town of Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco.

The arrest came only four days after the Canadian Thomas Gisby, another known drug trafficker, was murdered in the nearby Paradise Plaza Mall in Nuevo Vallarta.

Gisby was the sixth BC man with links to the drug trade to have been shot to death in Mexico in recent years. (For more detailed info on some of those other killings, see Canadian death in Mexico likely drug-related.)

Though officials have not stated whether the events are linked, Lucier’s arrest almost certainly comes from increased scrutiny on the part of Mexican authorities, which may be due to the Gisby murder.

Mexico is in the midst of a six-year drug war that has claimed over 50,000 lives, and its investigative resources are strapped.

The Mexican government does have the ability to closely track immigration, particularly by air, over an extended period of time, but the PGJE in Nayarit likely couldn’t have managed this on their own.  For that they needed the assistance and resources of the PGR, which is tied in to Interpol.

It is also possible that the RCMP, which has had a Canada-wide warrant out for Lucier, tipped off the Mexican authorities as to his presence in their country.

After Lucier disappeared in 2009 the police in Victoria, British Columbia, said they believed he had likely left the country. However, at the time of his arrest in Mexico the RCMP website still said that “his whereabouts remain unknown”, with no indication that he might have been outside of Canada.

Lucier has a criminal record dating back to 1983. Convictions include possession of a prohibited weapon, robbery and assault. He went on the lam when he was in parole for a 3 year and 7 month sentence brought down in 2007. That conviction was for possession of narcotics for the purpose of trafficking.

In 2005 Lucier was charged with six counts of possession for purposes of drug trafficking, possession of firearm and ammunition in violation of a court order, and unsafe weapons storage.

At that time, the possession charge was significant: almost four kilos of cocaine, 1.8 kilos of heroin, nearly half a kilo of marijuana, 25 grams of crack cocaine, eight tablets of ecstasy, and 12 grams of methamphetamine. The firearms charge was for a .38 caliber handgun.

Then, on September 29, 2009, Lucier's home in Saanich, on Vancouver Island near the provincial capital of Victoria, was raided. This was part of a larger operation in which nearly 100 police officers raided five homes in Saanich and the West Shore.

The cops seized four high-powered handguns, two vehicles, $420,600 in cash, a stun gun, bear spray, and body armour.

They also found 22.5 kilograms of cocaine, with the lion’s share, 22 kilos, found at a Saanich address that press reports say “was associated with Lucier”. The street value of the cocaine was estimated to be over $1 million.

 Lucier's RCMP mug shot

It has been reported that Lucier was acquainted with Gisby, who was shot to death in a Starbucks at 9 a.m on Saturday, April 28th, just after ordering his morning coffee. However, there is no indication that they were business associates.

Gisby, 47, was a high-level trafficker who had been active in the drug trade in British Columbia for over two decades, and was reportedly well-connected to Colombian and Mexican cartels.

(TE Wilson is the author of Mezcalero, a Detective Sánchez novel.)

Twitter: @TimothyEWilson
Email: lapoliticaeslapolitica [at] gmail [dot] com

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Friday 4 May 2012

Napoleon Gómez Urrutia heading back to Mexico from exile in Canada

The leader of Mexico’s National Union of Miners and Metal Workers, Napoleon Gomez Urrutia, is heading back to Mexico after a six-year self-imposed exile in Canada.

Mr. Gomez fled to Canada to avoid criminal prosecution. Specifically, Mexican prosecutors alleged that Gomez misappropriated $55 million in union funds.

However, Mexico’s Supreme Court has now ruled that there are no legal grounds for refusing to acknowledge Mr. Gomez as leader of the country’s powerful miner’s union. 

Napoleón Gómez Urrutia - heading home

In a 3-1 vote, the Supreme Court ruled against Mexico’s Labour Ministry, saying that only the union can decide whether a member is eligible to lead.

The main thrust of the accusations against Mr. Gómez was that he had illegally wound-up a miner’s trust, keeping funds for himself that were intended to be disbursed to miners after a mine was sold.

Union lawyers have indicated that all funds have been properly accounted for, including those frozen by the Mexican government.

Gómez has lived in exile in Vancouver, Canada, since 2006. He has received the support of the AFL-CIO, which has argued that the Mexican government was on a witch hunt, not only going after Gómez but also attacking the “Los Mineros” union itself, freezing its bank accounts and declaring all strikes to be illegal.

The union boss had accused the former PAN administration of Vicente Fox with “industrial homicide” after a mine explosion that killed 65 miners on February 19, 2006.

All in all, Gómez has beaten back eleven criminal charges against him.

Stephen Harper, the Canadian Prime Minister, spoke recently in Cartegena, Colombia, on the importance of mining to Canadian business in Latin America. For such a pro-business government to offer refuge to the leader of a Mexican mining union was a strong indication that Canada had serious concerns regarding political interference in Mexico.

Los Mineros is best known for its strike against Grupo Mexico, which operates copper mines and railways.

Things got ugly in 2010 when federal troops were sent in to break a strike at Grupo Mexico’s Cananea copper mine, the nation's biggest, which has a long and bloody history of labour unrest

The mine, which is near the U.S. border, had been shut down for months, but after police removed the striking workers Grupo Mexico signed a contract with a different union. Since then, the company has been gearing up in hopes of doubling output.

The union has kept two smaller mines closed. Officials for Grupo Mexico had no comment on the Supreme Court ruling, but they likely won’t be pleased.

Mr. Gómez Urrutia’s lawyer, Carlos de Buen, said on the Wednesday, May 2nd, that his client could now be formally reinstated as the union's general secretary.

The Labour Ministry, which now clearly has no right to interfere with a union’s decision, told Dow Jones News that it would "adjust its ruling based on those criteria."

We can expect some turmoil upon Mr. Gómez’s return. A dissident group issued a statement on  Thursday, May 3rd, asserting that Gomez's election was illegitimate, and claiming that it would file a complaint against the Supreme Court with the Organization of American States.

(TE Wilson is the author of Mezcalero, a Detective Sánchez novel.)

Twitter: @TimothyEWilson
Email: lapoliticaeslapolitica [at] gmail [dot] com

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Tuesday 1 May 2012

The Mexico Gaddafi security detail that wasn’t

As part of the case against those accused of plotting to smuggle Saadi Gaddafi from North Africa to Mexico, authorities have argued that Mr. Gaddafi, his wife, and two young children were to be placed first at the luxury St. Regis hotel and condominium complex in Mexico City.

To support their argument, the Mexicans are relying on an alleged email, supposedly leaked by “Anonymous”, between two former marines, Greg Gillispie and Michael Boffo, in which Mr. Gillispie allegedly says that millions of dollars could be made offering close protection to a family of four at the St. Regis.

Mr. Gillispie, a former principal of security training company Veritas Worldwide Security, is the owner of GG Global Holdings, a San Diego-based aircraft leasing company. This company contracted aircraft from Christian Eduardo Esquino Nuñez out of Toluca, Mexico, for use by Cynthia Vanier. Cynthia Vanier is the Canadian accused of organizing the alleged plot while under contract to the troubled Canadian engineering giant SNC-Lavalin.

Mr. Boffo, a former employee of military contractor DynCorp, was a close friend and business partner of Mr. Gillispie’s at Veritas Worldwide Security. He is presently employed by Pax Mondial in Afghanistan.

Mr. Gillispie has been very open to La politica, claiming that the Mexican authorities have confused a legitimate plan to secure the family of a Mexican politician with the alleged Gaddafi plot.

Mr. Boffo has also responded to queries from La politica, and has clearly stated that he had nothing to do with such a plot.

One unusual aspect of such a plan would be the requirement that Americans carry weapons in Mexico. This is against the law. Any plan to offer close protection would then involve the Americans in an advisory role, or operating in serious contravention of Mexican gun laws.

La politica has built a list of some of the men who may have been contacted to provide close protection at the St. Regis, and perhaps then later on as well, should the family have been relocated to a compound on the Pacific Coast, as the Mexicans allege.

The list provided below does not specifically identify the individuals for a number of reasons.

First, all have been contacted by La politica, and not one has been able to confirm or deny that they were approached for a close protection security detail in Mexico. Their silence may be due to NDAs, a desire not to put at risk their security clearance, or a fear that they would be compromising personal loyalties.

Second, they have done nothing illegal that La politica is aware of, and have not consented to having their identities revealed.

Not the gentlemen referred to in this article

Nonetheless, below is a partial roster, as best as La politica has been able to determine so far:

Summary of possible security detail at St. Regis

CP #1. Born 1968 and based in Atlanta, this former DynCorp and Blackwater employee in Iraq is a big Georgia Bulldogs and Southern Eagles fan, and rightly mourned the loss of Larry Munson. He is also fond of tennis star Anna Kournikova (no harm in that).

CP #2. Born 1965. Former member of the Diplomatic Security Service with the U.S. Department of State. Presently employed by DynCorp International as a project manager in Jacksonville, North Carolina. Also former Blackwater engaged in Kirkuk, Iraq, in February 2006. Posted Camp Lejeune, 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marines.

CP #3. Born 1976. Former member of the U.S. Marine Corp. Five years in Iraq. Presently runs a painting company in the Columbus, Ohio area.

CP #4. Former U.S. Marine Corp, former DynCorp International employee. Was at U.S. Joint Forces headquarters for 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah (January 16, 2001 – May 31, 2002). Email was included in bulk “Anonymous” dump of STRATFOR clients on December 25, 2011.

CP #5. Born 1977. Presently resides in Phoenix, AZ. Former Personal Security Specialist with DynCorp.

CP #6. Born 1971. Lives in Johnson City, Tennessee. Served in 2nd Brigade, First Calvary Division. Former DynCorp International employee.

(TE Wilson is the author of Mezcalero, a Detective Sánchez novel.)

Twitter: @TimothyEWilson
Email: lapoliticaeslapolitica [at] gmail [dot] com

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