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Posts Tagged ‘DRUG LORDS’

TO HYPOCRISY–AND BEYOND

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on February 17, 2017 at 11:00 am

On May 20, 2010, Mexico’s then-President Felipe Calderon addressed a joint session of the United States Congress–and attacked the Arizona law that allows law enforcement officials to detain anyone suspected of being in the country illegally.

Felipe Calderon

According to Calderon, the law “introduces a terrible idea: using racial profiling as a basis for law enforcement.”  

And to make certain his audience got the point, he offered: “I have said that Mexico does not stop at its border, that wherever there is a Mexican, there is Mexico.”

The hypocrisy of Calderon’s words was staggering.

Racial profiling?  Consider the popular Latino phrase, “La Raza.”

This literally means “the race” or “the people.” Its meaning varies among Spanish-speaking peoples. In the United States, it’s sometimes used to describe people of Chicano and Mexican descent as well as other Latin American mestizos who share Native American heritage.

It rarely includes entirely European or African descended Hispanic peoples.

So when Latinos say, “The Race,” they’re not talking about “the human race.” They’re talking strictly about their own. 

Other races need not apply.

In his lecture, Calderon condemned the United States for doing what Mexico itself has long done: Strictly enforcing control of its own borders.

From a purely political viewpoint, it’s makes sense that Calderon didn’t say anything about this.

From a viewpoint of fairness and common sense, his refusal to do so smacks of the vilest hypocrisy.

Mexico has a single, streamlined law that ensures that foreign visitors and immigrants are:

  • in the country legally;
  • have the means to sustain themselves economically;
  • not destined to be burdens on society;
  • of economic and social benefit to society;
  • of good character and have no criminal records; and
  • contribute to the general well-being of the nation.

The law also ensures that:

  • immigration authorities have a record of each foreign visitor;
  • foreign visitors do not violate their visa status;
  • foreign visitors are banned from interfering in the country’s internal politics;
  • foreign visitors who enter under ralse pretenses are imprisoned or deported;
  • foreign visitors violating the terms of their entry are imprisoned are deported;
  • those who aid in illegal immigration will be sent to prison.

Calderon also ignored a second well-understood but equally unacknowledged truth: Mexico uses the American border to rid itself of those who might otherwise demand major reforms in the country’s political and economic institutions.

Anyone who doubts the overwhelming need for such reforms need only read Murder City: Ciudad Juarez and the Global Economy’s New Killing Fields.  

Written by Investigative Reporter Charles Bowden and published in 2010, Murder City offers a terrifying, almost lethally depressing portrait of what happens when a city–and a country–disintegrates.

Among the casualties of Mexico’s drug-trafficking cartels: 

  • Mexican police pay big bribes to be assigned to narcotics enforcement squads. The reason: Not to suppress the rampant drug trafficking but to enrich themselves by seizing and selling those narcotics. 
  • Residents awaken at dawn to find bodies of the drug cartels’ latest victims dumped on streets–their hands, feet and mouths bound with silver and gray duct tape. 
  • Mexican policewomen are often snatched off the streets and raped–by members of the Mexican Army. Honest policemen–and even police chiefs–are routinely gunned down by cartel members.
  • Members of drug cartels live like kings–until violence catches up with them.
  • Their bribes and violence have corrupted all branches of the Mexican government, military and police forces.
  • Ordinary Mexicans live in grinding poverty, thanks to American factories paying starvation wages

Meanwhile, the Mexican Government still remembers the bloody upheaval known as the Mexican Revolution. This lasted ten years (1910-1920) and wiped out an estimated one to two million men, women and children.

Massacres were common on all sides, with men shot by the hundreds in bullrings or hung by the dozen on trees.

A Mexican Revolution firing squad

All of the major leaders of the Revolution–Francisco Madero, Emiliano Zapata, Venustiano Carranza, Francisco “Pancho” Villa, Alvaro Obregon–died in a hail of bullets.

Francisco “Pancho” Villa

Emiliano Zapata

As a result, every successive Mexican Government has lived in the shadow of another such wholesale bloodletting. These officials have thus quietly decided to turn the United States border into a safety valve.

If potential revolutionaries leave Mexico to find a better life in the United States, the Government doesn’t have to fear the rise of another “Pancho” Villa.

If somehow the United States managed to seal its southern border, all those teeming millions of “undocumented workers” who just happened to lack any documents would have to stay in “Mexico lindo.”

They would be forced to live with the rampant corruption and poverty that have forever characterized this failed nation-state. Or they would have to demand substantial reforms.

There is no guarantee that such demands would not lead to a second–and equally bloody–Mexican revolution.

So Felipe Calderon and his successors in power have found it easier–and safer–to turn the United States into a dumping ground for the Mexican citizens that the Mexican Government itself doesn’t want.

MEXICO: A FAILED NATION-STATE

In Bureaucracy, History, Law Enforcement, Military, Politics, Social commentary on June 12, 2015 at 12:24 am

On May 22, 2013, Mexican soldiers arrested Yanira Maldonado–-mother of seven-–as she and her husband, Gary, were returning to Arizona after attending a family funeral in Mexico.

During a search of their bus at a military checkpoint in the northwestern state of Sonora, soldiers asked everyone to get off.

Yanira Maldonado

At first, Gary Maldonado was told that marijuana had been found under his seat and found himself arrested.  After his father contacted the U.S. Consulate in Hermosillo, authorities said they were mistaken and released Gary.

Then they charged his wife, claiming they had found 12 pounds of marijuana under her bus seat.

After being detained in Mexico for more than a week on drug charges, Yanira Maldonado was released and returned to the United States.

Maldonado met with reporters briefly and said, “Many thanks to everyone, especially my God who let me go free, my family, my children, who with their help, I was able to survive this test.”

Gary Maldonado said he believed Mexican soldiers at the checkpoint wanted a bribe.

It’s entirely likely that this was the case.

Anyone who reads Murder City: Ciudad Juarez and the Global Economy’s New Killing Fields, will certainly think so.

Written by Investigative Reporter Charles Bowden and published in 2010, Murder City provides a terrifying–-and almost lethally depressing–-view of what happens when a city–-and a country–-disintegrates.

Ciudad Juárez lies just across the Rio Grande from El Paso, Texas. A once-thriving border town, it now resembles a failed state. Notorious as the place where women disappear, its murder rate exceeds that of Baghdad or Mogadishu.

It’s so overwhelmed with the violence of drug trafficking that its leading citizens—police, politicians, even the drug lords—find it safer to live in El Paso.

Hundreds of millions of narco-dollars flow into Juárez each week, and the violence and corruption that follow yield 200 to 300 murders each year.

Among the casualties of that violence:

  • A reporter–who has dared to expose cartel-corrupted members of the Mexican Army–is forced to flee to the United States with his young son.
  • A beautiful woman who became the mistress of one drug cartel leader is gang-raped by members of a rival cartel.
  • A teenage killer for the cartels is now being hunted for having run afoul of his murderous bosses.

This is a city–-and a country–-where virtually no one is safe.

  • Mexican police pay big bribes to be assigned to narcotics enforcement squads.  The reason: Not to suppress the rampant drug trafficking but to enrich themselves by seizing and selling those narcotics.
  • Residents awaken at dawn to find bodies of the drug cartels’ latest victims dumped on streets–their hands, feet and mouths bound with silver and gray duct tape.
  • Mexican policewomen are often snatched off the streets and raped–by members of the Mexican Army.
  • Honest policemen–and even police chiefs–are routinely gunned down by cartel members.

If there is any one story in Murder City that symbolizes the total corruption of a society awash with drugs and the profits they produce, it is this:

A Mexican priest serves as confessor to drug lords.  They, in turn, believe their confessions to be safe, as they are supposed to be heard only by the priest and God.

But one of the drug lords wears a large gold crucifix, which the priest secretly covets.

So he turns from drug lord confessor to police informer–-and the Mexican police raid the next drug lord gathering and confiscate a large quantity of narcotics.

The police don’t intend to turn in the seized narcotics.  Instead, they will sell these for their own profit.

And as a reward for his cooperation, the priest is given the large gold crucifix–-which he blesses and consecrates to his God.

Who, exactly, is behind all these killings?

And why?

And who, if anyone, is in charge of Juárez–-or Mexico?

Bowden states it is difficult to answer such questions because the Mexican press has been thoroughly corrupted by drug cartel monies or terrorized by drug cartel hit squads.

Reporters have been murdered–-by the cartels and the army–-for writing anything about killings, the army or the cartels.

The world of Murder City is a nightmarish one:

  • Members of drug cartels live like kings.
  • Their bribes and violence have corrupted all branches of the Mexican government, military and police forces.
  • Ordinary Mexicans live in grinding poverty, thanks to American factories paying starvation wages

When you leave its pages, you are grateful that you can safely put its evil behind you–-unlike the residents of Juarez who remain trapped in its web.

Meanwhile, there is a lesson in this book–-and in the case of Yanira Maldonado–-for anyone with common sense to learn: Stay out of Mexico.

During the 1980s, when Americans were being routinely kidnapped in Beirut, still others–-as if bent on suicide–-were getting passports to travel to Lebanon.

For residents of this failed nation-state called Mexico, it’s too late.  Such endemic corruption can never be fought successfully.

But for Americans who do not live there, the message should be clear: “Keep out.  Enter at your own risk.”

MEXICO: WHERE CORRUPTION IS KING

In Bureaucracy, History, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on March 5, 2014 at 12:00 am

The photo says it all.

Taken on February 22, it shows Joaquin Guzman, the widely-feared kingpin of the notorious Sinaloa Cartel, in the custody of Mexican Marines.

The Marines had launched a surprise, early-morning raid on the condominium where he was staying in Mazatlan, Sinaloa.

Taken without a shot being fired, Guzman was paraded before photographers.  Yet, even with his hands cuffed behind his back, the fear generated by his name was such that all the Marines in the photo wore black masks over their faces.

His nickname might be “El Chapo”, or “Shorty,” owing to his 5’6″ height.  But there is nothing aborted about the extent of his power.

Guzman became Mexico’s top drug kingpin in 2003 after the arrest of his rival, Osiel Cardenas, head of the Gulf Cartel.  Since then, he has been considered the “most powerful drug trafficker in the world” by the U.S. Department of the Treasury.

High-ranking officials in the U.S. Department of Justice hailed the arrest and announced they would seek Guzman’s extradition to the United States for trial.

There were two solid reasons for doing this:

  1. Guzman’s Sinaloa Cartel smuggles multi-ton cocaine shipments from Columbia through Mexico to the United States–the world’s top consumer.
  2. Arrested in 1993 and sentenced to 20 years’ imprisonment, Guzman lived like a king in prison–until he bribed his guards to smuggle him out in a laundry cart.  In Mexico, such treatment for drug kingpins is typical.

But even if Guzman spends the rest of his life in prison, his drug empire will go profitably rolling on.

Anyone who doubts this need only read Murder City: Ciudad Juarez and the Global Economy’s New Killing Fields.

Written by Investigative Reporter Charles Bowden and published in 2010, Murder City offers a terrifying, and almost lethally depressing, portrait of what happens when a city–and a country–disintegrates.

Ciudad Juárez lies just across the Rio Grande from El Paso, Texas. A once-thriving border town, it now resembles a failed state. Notorious as the place where women disappear, its murder rate exceeds that of Baghdad or Mogadishu.

It’s so overwhelmed with the violence of drug trafficking that its leading citizens—police, politicians, even the drug lords—find it safer to live in El Paso.

Hundreds of millions of narco-dollars flow into Juárez each week, and the violence and corruption that follow yield 200 to 300 murders each year.

Among the casualties of that violence:

  • A reporter–who has dared to expose cartel-corrupted members of the Mexican Army–is forced to flee to the United States with his young son.
  • A beautiful woman who became the mistress of one drug cartel leader is gang-raped by members of a rival cartel.
  • A teenage killer for the cartels is now being hunted for having run afoul of his murderous bosses.

This is a city–and a country–where virtually no one is safe.

  • Mexican police pay big bribes to be assigned to narcotics enforcement squads.  The reason: Not to suppress the rampant drug trafficking but to enrich themselves by seizing and selling those narcotics.
  • Residents awaken at dawn to find bodies of the drug cartels’ latest victims dumped on streets–their hands, feet and mouths bound with silver and gray duct tape.
  • Mexican policewomen are often snatched off the streets and raped–by members of the Mexican Army.
  • Honest policemen–and even police chiefs–are routinely gunned down by cartel members.

If there is any one story in Murder City that symbolizes the total corruption of a society awash with drugs and the profits they produce, it is this:

A Mexican priest serves as confessor to drug lords.  They, in turn, believe their confessions to be safe, as they are supposed to be heard only by the priest and God.

But one of the drug lords wears a large gold crucifix, which the priest secretly covets.

So he turns from drug lord confessor to police informer–and the Mexican police raid the next drug lord gathering and confiscate a large quantity of narcotics.

The police don’t intend to turn in the seized narcotics.  Instead, they will sell these for their own profit.

And as a reward for his cooperation, the priest is given the large gold crucifix–which he blesses and consecrates to his God.

Who, exactly, is behind all these killings?

And why?

And who, if anyone, is in charge of Juárez–or Mexico?

Bowden states it is difficult to answer such questions because the Mexican press has been thoroughly corrupted by drug cartel monies or terrorized by drug cartel hit squads.  Reporters have been murdered–by the cartels and the army–for writing anything about killings, the army or the cartels.

The world of Murder City is a nightmarish one:

  • Members of drug cartels live like kings.
  • Their bribes and violence have corrupted all branches of the Mexican government, military and police forces.
  • Ordinary Mexicans live in grinding poverty, thanks to American factories paying starvation wages

When you leave its pages, you are grateful that you can safely put its evil behind you–unlike the residents of Juarez who remain trapped in its web.

For residents of this failed nation-state called Mexico, it’s too late.  Such endemic corruption can never be fought successfully.

“MAN ON FIRE” REVISITED

In Bureaucracy, History, Law Enforcement, Politics on May 31, 2013 at 8:21 pm

Yanira Maldonado has been released from a Mexican jail.

She and her husband, Gary, had traveled from Arizona to Mexico to attend a funeral.

They were returning to Arizona when their bus was stopped and searched.  Mexican soldiers claimed they found 12 pounds of marijuana under her seat.

Gary Maldonado believes the soldiers were seeking a bribe in return for letting his wife go free.

But then the Mormon mother of seven got an unusually lucky break.

On May 30, security camera footage in court showed Maldonado and her husband boarding a bus in Mexico–and carrying a purse, two blankets and two bottles of water.

Her defense attorney, Francisco Benitez, argued that the images proved that nothing they were carrying could hold the amount of marijuana that Maldonado was accused of smuggling.

The Mexican soldiers who arrested Maldonado didn’t appear in court. They were scheduled to appear on May 29  but didn’t show.

Yanira Maldonado said she didn’t think that she was directly targeted: “Someone smuggled those in there, and I probably sat in the wrong seat.”

To anyone who has seen “Man on Fire,” the 2004 Denzel Washington movie, the possibility that Maldonado was framed in an extortion attempt does not seem far-fetched.

In fact, it’s an everyday occurrence in Mexico, where corruption permeates every aspect of that country’s “war on drugs.”

In “Man on Fire,” Washington plays Marcus Creasy, a former Special Forces soldier hired to bodyguard Pita Ramos, the precocious nine-year-old daughter of wealthy parents.

But in a shootout with kidnappers, Creasy is gravely wounded and Pita (Dakota Fanning) is snatched.  Believing her murdered, Creasy sets out to avenge the child he has grown to love as his own.

He draws up a Who’s Who list of criminals engaged in serial kidnapping.  And, in doing so, he learns that the biggest criminal gang of all is the Mexican police.

It’s called “La Hermandad” (The Brotherhood).

Creasy snatches a corrupt cop and tortures him (by cutting off several fingers) into giving up the names of some of his top associates.  Then Creasy shoots him in the head and moves on to his next target.

Watching all this activity is the Mexican version of the FBI: The Agencia Federal de Investigacion (AFI).  Its director, Miguel Manzano, plans to use Creasy to unravel the kidnappers’ network.

While Creasy coolly disposes of one kidnapper or corrupt cop after another, Manzano and his agents keep close tabs on the action.  They will let Creasy do the dirty work and move in when the time is right.

After several grisly action sequences–including one where Creasy ambushes police with a Rocket Propelled Grenade (RPG) launcher–Creasy learns the unthinkable: Pita is actually alive.

He kidnaps the brother of the leader of “La Hermandad”–Daniel Sanchez–and offers him a trade: You give me Pita and I’ll give you your brother.

Just as he has brutally traded on the love of others for the lives of their snatched relatives, so, too, must Sanchez now accept such an arrangement.

The trade-off goes down, with Pita rushing into the arms of her overjoyed mother, and with Creasy surrendering himself to members of the Agencia Federal de Investigacion.

Daniel Sánchez is later killed by Miguel Manzano during an AFI raid.

“Man on Fire” is an unrelentingly brutal portrait of a thoroughly corrupt nation.

  • Pita’s Mexican father sets up his own daughter for a bogus kidnapping to cheat the insurance company out of the money it’s prepared to pay for “kidnapping insurance.”
  • His attorney cheats the kidnappers of the ransome money they had demanded, intending to keep this for himself.
  • Two Mexican policemen make up the kidnapping gang that snatches Pita.
  • A member of the Mexican Attorney General’s office–who’s assigned to its anti-kidnapping squad, no less–is in on the plot to seize Pita.
  • Other members of the Mexican police routinely assist kidnapping gangs in return for a portion of the ransom money.
  • Even the Agencia Federal de Investigacion, while portrayed as incorruptable, llows Creasy to eliminate cops and kidnappers as he leads the AFI closer to the head of the criminal network.

One of the few moments of levity–no doubt unintended–in an otherwise humorless movie comes at the start of its end-credits: “A SPECIAL THANKS TO MEXICO CITY, A VERY SPECIAL PLACE.”

“I love Mexico,” Maldonado told reporters after safely arriving in Nogales, Ariz.  “My family is still there. So Mexico… it’s not Mexico’s fault. It’s a few people who you know did this to me,” she said.

Perhaps a more accurate analysis of the conditions prevailing in Mexico was given by William von Raab, the U.S. Commissioner of Customs from 1981 to 1989.

In 1986, testifying before a Senate committee on the extent of narcotics corruption in Mexico, Raab said: “There is an ingrained corruption in the Mexican law-enforcement establishment.

“Corruption is so pervasive, that one has to assume every Mexican official is corrupt unless proven otherwise.”

Raab’s assessment should be required reading for every American planning to vacation “down Mexico way.”

MEXICO: A FAILED NATION-STATE

In Bureaucracy, History, Law Enforcement, Politics on May 29, 2013 at 5:27 pm

In Nogales, Mexico, a judge is deciding whether to free an Arizona woman–accused of drug smuggling–from a Mexican jail.

On May 22, Mexican soldiers arrested Yanira Maldonado–mother of seven–as she and her husband, Gary, were returning to Arizona after attending a family funeral in Mexico.

During a search of their bus at a military checkpoint in the northwestern state of Sonora, soldiers asked everyone to get off.

At first, Gary Maldonado was told that marijuana had been found under his seat and found himself arrested.   After his father contacted the U.S. Consulate in Hermosillo, authorities said they were mistaken and released Gary.

Then they charged his wife, claiming they had found 12 pounds of marijuana under her bus seat.

Gary Maldonado said he believes Mexican soldiers at the checkpoint wanted a bribe.

It’s entirely likely that this is the case.

Anyone who reads Murder City: Ciudad Juarez and the Global Economy’s New Killing Fields, will certainly think so.

Written by Investigative Reporter Charles Bowden and published in 2010, Murder City provides a terrifying–and almost lethally depressing–view of what happens when a city–and a country–disintegrates.

Ciudad Juárez lies just across the Rio Grande from El Paso, Texas. A once-thriving border town, it now resembles a failed state. Notorious as the place where women disappear, its murder rate exceeds that of Baghdad or Mogadishu.

It’s so overwhelmed with the violence of drug trafficking that its leading citizens—police, politicians, even the drug lords—find it safer to live in El Paso.

Hundreds of millions of narco-dollars flow into Juárez each week, and the violence and corruption that follow yield 200 to 300 murders each year.

Among the casualties of that violence:

  • A reporter–who has dared to expose cartel-corrupted members of the Mexican Army–is forced to flee to the United States with his young son.
  • A beautiful woman who became the mistress of one drug cartel leader is gang-raped by members of a rival cartel.
  • A teenage killer for the cartels is now being hunted for having run afoul of his murderous bosses.

This is a city–and a country–where virtually no one is safe.

  • Mexican police pay big bribes to be assigned to narcotics enforcement squads.  The reason: Not to suppress the rampant drug trafficking but to enrich themselves by seizing and selling those narcotics.
  • Residents awaken at dawn to find bodies of the drug cartels’ latest victims dumped on streets–their hands, feet and mouths bound with silver and gray duct tape.
  • Mexican policewomen are often snatched off the streets and raped–by members of the Mexican Army.
  • Honest policemen–and even police chiefs–are routinely gunned down by cartel members.

If there is any one story in Murder City that symbolizes the total corruption of a society awash with drugs and the profits they produce, it is this:

A Mexican priest serves as confessor to drug lords.  They, in turn, believe their confessions to be safe, as they are supposed to be heard only by the priest and God.

But one of the drug lords wears a large gold crucifix, which the priest secretly covets.

So he turns from drug lord confessor to police informer–and the Mexican police raid the next drug lord gathering and confiscate a large quantity of narcotics.

The police don’t intend to turn in the seized narcotics.  Instead, they will sell these for their own profit.

And as a reward for his cooperation, the priest is given the large gold crucifix–which he blesses and consecrates to his God.

Who, exactly, is behind all these killings?

And why?

And who, if anyone, is in charge of Juárez–or Mexico?

Bowden states it is difficult to answer such questions because the Mexican press has been thoroughly corrupted by drug cartel monies or terrorized by drug cartel hit squads.  Reporters have been murdered–by the cartels and the army–for writing anything about killings, the army or the cartels.

The world of Murder City is a nightmarish one:

  • Members of drug cartels live like kings.
  • Their bribes and violence have corrupted all branches of the Mexican government, military and police forces.
  • Ordinary Mexicans live in grinding poverty, thanks to American factories paying starvation wages

When you leave its pages, you are grateful that you can safely put its evil behind you–unlike the residents of Juarez who remain trapped in its web.

Meanwhile, there is a lesson in this book–and in the case of Yanira Maldonado–for anyone with common sense to learn: Stay out of Mexico.

During the 1980s, when Americans were being routinely kidnapped in Beirut, still others–as if bent on suicide–were getting passpords to travel to Lebanon.

For residents of this failed nation-state called Mexico, it’s too late.  Such endemic corruption can never be fought successfully.

But for Americans who do not live there, the message should be clear: “Keep out.  Enter at your own risk.”

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