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Cablegate: Drug Violence Focuses On Small Dealers; Public Yawns

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P 121941Z MAR 08
FM AMCONSUL MONTERREY
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 2768
INFO RUEHME/AMEMBASSY MEXICO PRIORITY 3660
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145517
2008-03-12 19:41:00
08MONTERREY121
Consulate Monterrey
CONFIDENTIAL

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DE RUEHMC #0121/01 0721941
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 121941Z MAR 08
FM AMCONSUL MONTERREY
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 2768
INFO RUEHME/AMEMBASSY MEXICO PRIORITY 3660
RUEHXC/ALL US CONSULATES IN MEXICO COLLECTIVE
RUEABND/DEA HQ WASHDC
RHMFISS/FBI WASHINGTON DC
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHINGTON DC
RHMFISS/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHINGTON DC
RUEHMC/AMCONSUL MONTERREY 8138

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MONTERREY 000121

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 3/12/2018
TAGS: SNAR PGOV KCRM ECON MX
SUBJECT: DRUG VIOLENCE FOCUSES ON SMALL DEALERS; PUBLIC YAWNS

MONTERREY 00000121 001.2 OF 002


CLASSIFIED BY: Bruce Williamson, Consul General, Consulate
General of Monterrey, State.
REASON: 1.4 (b), (d)

1. (C) Summary. Although the number of drug executions and
kidnappings remains high in Nuevo Leon, the drug violence has
shifted its focus to small time drug dealers and people who owe
them money. Public interest in this issue is declining as
people have become accustomed to drug killings and see that the
violence primarily affects low level actors. In one notable
success, state police detained members of a gang which
perpetrated kidnappings and killings. The federal forces
continue to conduct some local operations against safe houses
and kidnapping gangs, but the state and local police have done
little. End Summary.

2. (C) By objective standards, 2008 has been a violent year
in Nuevo Leon. As of March 11, there have been over 20 drug
executions, a figure which, if annualized, would put the state
ahead of the record pace of 107 for calendar year 2007. We also
understand that kidnappings continue, particularly of small time
drug dealers or people who owe the cartel money. One gang which
kidnapped Mexicans who own small or medium sized businesses in
Northern Monterrey (targeting those who have ready cash) has
been put out of commission. This band, called 'los similares'
(because they passed themselves off as Zetas, the enforcement
arm of the Gulf Cartel) killed one kidnap victim, and collected
ransoms on five others, netting tens of thousands of dollars
from each one, among other crimes. There have also been
significant increases in other crime, such as bank robbery,
which number 27 for the year so far, ahead of the record pace of
56 for 2007.

3. (C) In 2008 the profile of drug murder victims has changed.
Except for two cases, the victims of the drug executions in
2008 have all been small time drug dealers or people who owed
the cartels money. In contrast, there were assassinations of 29
police officers -- including police chiefs, commanders and
federal AFI agents -- and a Nuevo Leon state deputy in 2007.
The killings have also been less public. In 2007 there were
cases of shootouts in broad daylight, but now the victims are
killed more discreetly. According to the contacts of one of
Consulate law enforcement official, these killings have been
conducted within the context of the truce between the drug
cartels and constitute 'the settlement of accounts' of drug
dealers who have not been following the cartel's rules. These
contacts also report that some drug cartel members have been
laying low in Nuevo Leon due to Mexican federal government
pressure on their organizations in the neighboring state of
Tamaulipas. In addition, the drug cartels may now realize that
high profile killings are counterproductive because they
generate increased law enforcement heat.

4. (C) The state of Nuevo Leon has reacted minimally. On
January 21, presumed drug hitmen killed a Nuevo Leon judge,
Ernesto Palacios Lopez, who had presided over a 2005 case
involving two state drug kingpins. This was the first
assassination of a state judge and it created considerable
public outcry, in the end provoking legislative efforts to
provide security for state judges. A state police sergeant was
attacked on March 5, but he escaped unharmed. The state police
reacted the next day by apprehending 381 people, although the
vast majority were released the next day and so far only four
have been arrested on any charges (but not the assassination
itself). In contrast, on March 2, presumed drug cartel members
killed three people in two separate attacks within five minutes
of each other; to date, no one has been taken into custody for
these crimes. A Post law enforcement official opined that the
local police would act on intelligence passed to them about low
level criminals, but they are too afraid to use such
intelligence to catch the big fish of the drug cartels.

5. (C) Nuevo Leon police did arrest eight members of the gang
'los similares' on March 10. These criminals are suspected of
committing at least four executions in Nuevo Leon in 2008, and
kidnapping 15 people in 2007 and 2008. Although 'los similares'
passed themselves off as Zetas, there is no indication that they
were connected with a drug cartel. In contrast, there have not
been any arrests of the perpetrators of the 55 drug executions
in 2006 or the 107 killings committed in 2007.

6. (SBU) There is much less public outcry about drug violence
now. Last year every execution was front page news, and the
leading newspaper El Norte kept an interactive webpage on the
location and data for each killing. Now El Norte covers the
killings in the inside pages of its local section. Post press
officer met with a senior El Norte editor, who seemed to
genuinely believe that violence had declined. Similarly, last
year after each killing our law enforcement contacts would buzz
with the news; now there is little interest in the details of
each death. Similarly, our economic contacts seem much less
worried as the violence seems farther off and does not directly
affect the more affluent communities. In addition, people have
become more accustomed to drug killings, so their attention has
moved on to other subjects.

7. (C) Comment. The state police, while capable of busting a
killing and kidnapping ring when it is not associated with the
cartels, seems to have little local appetite to hit the local
drug cartels hard. The Mexican military and federal police
continue to conduct operations, but there is little help from
state and local forces. The only notable operation by state
and local police was the March 6 sweep of detaining 381 people
after the policeman was attacked, but almost all were released
shortly afterwards, indicating, in our view, that it was more
for show than a serious operation. End comment.

WILLIAMSON

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