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Cablegate: Subject: Narco-Killings Continue

VZCZCXRO6064
RR RUEHCD RUEHGD RUEHHO RUEHMC RUEHNG RUEHNL RUEHRD RUEHRS RUEHTM
DE RUEHME #6228/01 3532055
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 192055Z DEC 07
FM AMEMBASSY MEXICO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 9963
INFO RUEHXC/ALL US CONSULATES IN MEXICO COLLECTIVE
RUEAHLA/DEPT OF HOMELAND SECURITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RUEAWJA/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHDC
RUEABND/DEA HQS WASHINGTON DC
RHMFIUU/CDR USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL
RHMFIUU/CDR USNORTHCOM

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 04 MEXICO 006228

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL SNAR KCRM PINR MASS MX
SUBJECT: SUBJECT: NARCO-KILLINGS CONTINUE

REF: A. MEXICO 5401
B. MEXICO 6196
C. TIJUANA 1193
D. MONTERREY 981

--------
Summary
--------

1. (SBU) Although estimates of the total number of organized
crime-related killings in the first 11 months of 2007 vary
between GOM sources and newspaper tallies -- ranging between
approximately 2,200 to 3,200 -- Mexico has witnessed more of
these types of killings this year, compared to an estimated
2120 for all of 2006. According to Mexico City newspaper
Diariomonitor, there were approximately 303 drug-related
homicides in October and 289 in November. While July
registered the lowest number of deaths, May was the most
violent month with 396 killings. (See reftel) The majority
of these killings continue to occur in traditional areas of
illegal trafficking zones, such as Sinaloa, Baja California,
Guerrero, Chihuahua, and Michoacan. Law enforcement officials
continue to be targeted. We estimate approximately 248 law
enforcement officials and 22 soldiers have been murdered in
the first 11 months of the year. In spite of the unabated
violence, GOM officials remain resolved to crack down on the
cartels, scoring several key arrests and a record-breaking
seizure.

-------------------------------
Sinaloa: The most violent state
-------------------------------

2. (U) In the month of November, Sinaloa once again topped
the list of all Mexican states with 66 narco-related
killings. Sinaloa has suffered more homicides than any other
state over the last three decades, with over 7,000 murdered
over the last 10 years. According to a study conducted by the
State Attorney General's Office, there were 588 murders
linked to organized crime from January 2007 thru October
2007. The study also reports that 80% of the murders were
committed with firearms, and 60% of those were high-power
firearms (i.e. AK-47s, AR-15s, and machine guns). Sinaloa is
considered a strategic bridge for the trafficking of drugs to
the U.S. and is the birthplace for the heads of Mexico's
principal cartels.

------------------------------
Police continue to be targeted
------------------------------

3. (SBU) Police officers continue to figure prominently among
homicide victims. Mexican authorities have on occasion
argued that the killings of law enforcement officers are the
consequence of their taking the fight to the drug
traffickers. Since our last report (reftel) in October,
approximately 30 current and former law enforcement officials
and soldiers were killed. Some of the more high-profile
killings include:

-- On November 24, two policemen were gunned down by 10
heavily armed men in the southern state of Oaxaca.

-- On December 4, only three days after he was named the new
police commander of Tecate in the state of Baja California,
Jose Juan Soriano Pereira -- was assassinated by a heavily
armed gang that stormed his home and shot him 50 times while
he lay in his bed. Hours prior to his killing, Soriano had
participated in a police raid that had detected a
"narco-tunnel" leading to the U.S.

-- On December 4, Juan Carlos Huerta Rodr!guez, the police
commander of Cuitzeo in the state of Michoacan was killed
only three days after the police commander of the town of
Arteaga was killed.

---------------------------------------
Politicians and Musicians also targeted
---------------------------------------

4. (U) Local politicians have also been targeted by the drug
gangs. On November 30, Juan Antonio Guajardo Anzaldua,
former PRD federal deputy and mayor of the border town Rio
Bravo, and five others were shot dead in Rio Bravo's central
plaza. Days before his assassination, Guajardo complained

MEXICO 00006228 002 OF 004


that a group of armed men had intimidated him.

5. (U) The cartels have also allegedly assassinated several
musicians/vocalists of "grupero" music bands. The death toll
of these musicians has climbed to 13 over the past year and a
half -- with the latest three this month. On December 7,
Mexican authorities reported the third murder of a musician
in less than a week. Sergio Gomez, vocalist for the
top-selling group K-Paz de la Sierra, was killed in Michoacan
on December 4. A vocalist of another well-known band, Zayda
Pena Arjona, was killed the same day in Matamoros,
Tamaulipas. Some analysts compare the way in which many of
these entertainers have been killed with cartel-style
killings, because most of them were excessively brutal with
signs of torture. Although there is no solid evidence that
links these homicides to the cartels, the killings still
contribute to a sense of public unease.

------------
GOM response
------------

6. (U) Since our last report (reftel), officials announced a
number of high-profile arrests, convictions, and contraband
seizures. One of the most notable law enforcement actions
was on October 30. PGR and SEDENA scored the most noteworthy
achievement when they made the largest cocaine confiscation
(23.5 metric tons) in Mexican and world history resulting
from an intelligence-based anti-narcotics operation.

7. (U) Other noteworthy blows since our last report (reftel)
include:

-- On Nov. 8, Mexican police, working in conjunction with
U.S. authorities, captured Pedro Alatorre Damy, the alleged
head of finances for the huge Sinaloa drug cartel.

-- On December 2, SSP announced that as part of Joint
Operation La Laguna, police arrested nine members of a
kidnapping ring linked to the Gulf Cartel and the Zetas.

-- On December 10, SSP Undersecretary of Police Strategy and
Intelligence Patricio Patino Arias announced that 11
suspected Zetas were arrested in Campeche State's Cuidad del
Carmen.

-- On December 12, Mexican Army elements detained one of the
top leaders of the Gulf Cartel along with three of his
subordinates in an operation in the state of Tamaulipas.
Marco Antonio Ramirez, aka "Tony la Palma" reportedly ran
large-scale operations in the states of San Luis Potosi,
Tamaulipas, Queretero, Hidalgo and Mexico. Mexico's Defense
Secretariat said he had recently taken over for another major

SIPDIS
Gulf Cartel leader taken down last June, Luis Reyes Enriquez,
aka "El Rex."

-- On December 16, federal police officers arrested eight
members of a gang linked to the Gulf drug cartel following a
chase in the border city of Reynosa. Authorities seized five
vehicles, 14 rifles, 9 pistols of different calibers, 9
grenades, and more than 1,000 rounds of ammunition and 21
radios from the suspects. The gang operated in the northern
cities of Monterrey and Torreon, working with the Gulf
cartel's armed wing, known as Los Zetas, the secretariat said.

8. (U) In sum, during the period January 1 to November 30,
the Attorney General of the Republic (PGR) reported the
following confiscations and arrests: 48.6 metric tons of
cocaine, 1.94 metric tons of marijuana, 35.7 tons of
precursor chemicals for methamphetamines, 688,635 rounds of
ammunition, 537 grenades, 7,456 weapons (over 3,500 of which
were long arms), 100 boats, and 51 airplanes. During this
period 13,918 individuals were prosecuted for drug-related
offenses and 15 "capos" and deputy "capos" were captured.

-------------------
Record Extraditions
-------------------

9. (U) Mexico has also extradited 80 fugitives to the U.S. in
the course of 2007, the overwhelming majority of which were
Mexican nationals, far exceeding the total number of
extraditions any other year in history, including the
previous record of 63 in 2006. Of the 80 surrendered in
2007, over one-third were wanted in the U.S. for drug

MEXICO 00006228 003 OF 004


trafficking offenses and included major cartel leaders,
including Gulf leader Osiel Cardenas Guillen. An even
greater number of U.S. citizen fugitives, including drug
traffickers, were returned by deportation to face justice in
the U.S.

10. (U) As part of a longer term strategy, the GOM has
legislation pending in Congress that would render Mexico's
justice system more transparent and give law enforcement
authorities more tools to prosecute organized crime cases
(see reftel B).

--------------------------------------------- ---
GOM's counter-narcotics (CN) operations press-on
--------------------------------------------- ---

11. (U) Meanwhile, the GOM continues to send federal forces
into various states. After the November 30 execution of
former Tamaulipas mayor Guajardo, amidst continued violence
in the region, President Calderon acknowledged that
traffickers had infiltrated politics and increased the
number of troops (on December 5) deployed to the state of
Tamaulipas on Mexico's northeastern border with the U.S.

------------------------------
Criticism of the GOM's CN ops
------------------------------

12. (SBU) Calderon's CN counternarcotic efforts are not
without their critics. On November 20, Sonora Governor
Eduardo Bours Castelo public demanded the withdrawal of all
Federal Investigative Agency (AFI) personnel from the state,
after AFI personnel raided the home of Bours Castelo's
bodyguard (on November 19), which Sonora officials say was
groundless. Governor Bours Castelo said that fighting
organized crime requires commitment and coordination, which
he feels is absent among the federal agents. Bours' decision
was supported by Governor of Coahuila Humberto Moreira. Both
PRI governors said there should be more coordination between
state and federal police, though Moreira said that he had no
problem with the AFI's behavior in Coahuila.

13. (SBU) Although most security analysts believe the massive
presence of military soldiers in the border region has helped
reduce criminal operations, they also cautiously reference
similarities to Fox's "Operation Safe Mexico" in 2004. Based
on this experience, some analysts hypothesize that everything
will return to its previous "narco-equilibrium" as soon as
the army's special mobilization ends and the support
contingents from other military zones withdraw.

14. (SBU) Others continue to voice concern conveyed by human
rights groups concern about the militarization of Mexico's
public security efforts and increased risk for human rights
abuses. In their view, the military is assuming too much of
an active role in the daily lives of the local communities.
Besides patrolling the streets, soldiers are guarding
international bridges and highway access to different towns.

15. (U) Meanwhile, Mexican legislators are calling for a
reinforcement of intelligence capabilities. A November 22
report drafted by the Chamber of Deputies and Senate National
Security Committees specified that shortcomings in Mexico's
intelligence gathering capabilities contributed to the
proliferation of organized crime and guerrilla organizations.


---------------------------------------------
Cartels' Reaction: Searching for New Routes
---------------------------------------------

16. (SBU) Embassy security analysts believe the operations
launched by the federal government since December 2006 have
pushed the drug cartels to seek new routes. Chihuahua,
Mexico, and Baja California states have been particularly
affected. The permeability of Mexico's southern border,
taken together with the impoverished socioeconomic level of
Central American migrants, has offered traffickers a pool of
new recruits ready to serve as "drug mules."
17. (U) Director of the Mexican Observatory on Drugs Elias
Razur Antonio claims that drug-traffickers have reopened the
old South American-Yucatan Peninsula-Florida route for
trafficking drugs, "taking advantage of relaxed surveillance
by the USG which is busier with the wars in Iraq and
Afghanistan." Razur says that the Sinaloa Cartel is disputing

MEXICO 00006228 004 OF 004


control of the revalued Caribbean routes with the Gulf
Cartel. Colombian security expert Gilberto Zuluaga also
recently claimed at a money laundering and drug-trafficking
seminar that Merida represents not only a new global drug
trafficking route, but also the main hub for shipping cocaine
to the U.S. and Europe.
--------------------------
Juarez Cartel Back On Top?
--------------------------

18. (SBU) On November 12, a PGR and military intelligence
report was leaked to local daily newspaper Milenio that
claimed the Juarez gang was the most powerful drug gang in
Mexico. (Note: Most security specialists thought that the
Juarez Cartel had lost power following the death of its
leader, Amado Carrillo Fuentes, during plastic surgery to
alter his face in 1997. End Note.) The previous consensus was
that the three most powerful cartels were Sinaloa, Gulf and
Tijuana. However, the intelligence report -- as reported by
Milenio -- claimed that the Juarez cartel, now run by Victor
Carrillo Fuentes, operated in 21 of Mexico's 32 states. In
comparison, the Sinaloa has a presence in 17 states, the
Tijuana gang in 15, and the Gulf cartel - which is generally
viewed by specialists as the most violent - only operates in
13 states. The report argues that while the other gangs
have been feuding, the Juarez cartel has been building up its
business and moving into new markets. (Note: In the middle
of the year, academics and other drug specialists claimed
that the Gulf and Sinaloa gangs agreed a ceasefire because
their battles were weakening each other. End Note.) Comment:
Embassy security analysts are skeptical of the claim that the
Juarez cartel is the most powerful. If this were the case,
we would likely see more violence extending to the Juarez
cartel as they try to aggressively protect their drug routes.
End Comment.

-------
Comment
-------

19. (SBU) Although narco-killings remain constant, a
continuing string of high-profile arrests and seizures,
suggests President Calderon's resolve has not wavered in
taking this fight to the cartels. The GOM's aggressive
drug-enforcement stance has led many observers and analysts
to conclude that Mexican efforts have indeed succeeded in
disrupting drug-trafficking flows into the U.S., and they
cite as proof official studies that indicate dwindling stocks
and higher prices for cocaine in many U.S. cities. Moreover,
the U.S. law enforcement community at post agrees that
USG-GOM security cooperation and information sharing is at an
all-time high. No doubt formal agreement to greater U.S.
assistance in the context of the Merida Initiative will
strengthen the GOM's resolve and produce even greater
cooperation in our joint efforts to put traffickers on the
defensive.


Visit Mexico City's Classified Web Site at
http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/wha/mexicocity and the North American
Partnership Blog at http://www.intelink.gov/communities/state/nap /
BASSETT

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