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Cablegate: Narco-Violence Spikes, Top Cops Targeted

VZCZCXRO3240
RR RUEHCD RUEHGD RUEHHO RUEHMC RUEHNG RUEHNL RUEHRD RUEHRS RUEHTM
DE RUEHME #1433/01 1341628
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 131628Z MAY 08
FM AMEMBASSY MEXICO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1828
INFO RUEHXC/ALL US CONSULATES IN MEXICO COLLECTIVE
RUEAHLA/DEPT OF HOMELAND SECURITY
RHMFIUU/CDR USNORTHCOM
RHMFIUU/CDR USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHINGTON DC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHINGTON DC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 MEXICO 001433

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE

DEPARTMENT FOR INL

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV PHUM SNAR KCRM MX
SUBJECT: NARCO-VIOLENCE SPIKES, TOP COPS TARGETED

REF: A. TIJUANA 408
B. TIJUANA438
C. TIJUANA 438
D. CIUDAD JUAREZ 204

Summary
-------

1. (SBU) Organized crime killings in 2008 are up over record
numbers last year. Large scale shootouts around the country
over the last two weeks have left dozens dead. And the
cartels are not only killing each other but going after the
police as well. Over the last ten days, assassins have
killed high-ranking police officials in Tijuana, Ciudad
Juarez and Mexico City, several of whom were close DEA
contacts. Much of the violence can be attributed directly to
GOM success in disrupting the cartels. While President
Calderon is insistent the GOM is undeterred in its efforts,
the attacks on police are taking a toll as they struggle to
meet recruiting targets. End Summary.

2.(SBU) Mexican newspapers tally between 900 and 1100
organized crime homicides so far this year. Chihuahua, Baja
California, and the State of Mexico each account for more
than 10% of these homicides. The states of Sinaloa,
Michoacan, and Guerrero also figure prominently in the murder
count. The last two weeks have been particularly bloody with
a major shootout in Tijuana (April 26), which left 13 people
dead, two back-to-back massacres in Guerrero (May 3 and 4)
which left 17 ranchers dead, and a shootout in Zacatecas (May
6) which left 3 dead. The first 10 days of May registered
over 100 drug-related homicides, almost 20 percent of which
were law enforcement officials.

Month Police/Military Total
------------------------------------------
Jan 23 248
Feb 19 245
Mar 20 232
Apr 11 107
May 1-10 20 108
-----------------------------------------
Total 93 940

OK Corral from Coast to Coast
-----------------------------

3. (SBU) Mexico has been hit by a wave of violence across the
country over the last two weeks.

-- Tijuana: The April 26 shootout among members of the
Arrellano Felix Organization (AFO) left thirteen drug
traffickers dead. Media speculate the violence resulted from
a meeting of the rival factions which turned sour or the
consequence of a kidnapping of members of opposing groups.

-- Guerrero: In two separate attacks in the southern state
of Guerrero, 17 ranchers were killed by suspected drug
hitmen. On May 4 at least 10 ranchers were killed in an
attack by 40 armed men on the estate of a well-known and
politically connected rancher, Rogaciano Alba Alvarez. The
attack followed an attack on May 3 in which seven ranchers,
who were on their way back from a meeting with Alba, were
killed. The attack may have been an attempt to settle a score
with Alba, whose two sons were killed in the attack and whose
daughter was kidnapped. He had survived an earlier attempted
assassination in Michoacan in 2006.

-- Zacatecas: On May 7, a clash between army soldiers and
presumed cartel enforcers leaving an illegal horse race
resulted in three deaths, including a young boy caught in the
cross-fire.

-- Ciudad Juarez: Two-thousand troops and 500 federal police
deployed to Chihuahua in late March may have resulted in
restoring a semblance of order ) media report that killings
in the state appear to have declined from 25 per week to 26
in over the first three weeks of the operation.

Police Taking Major Hits

MEXICO 00001433 002 OF 003


------------------------

4. (SBU) Law enforcement and military officials continue to
be targeted with just under 100 drug-related homicides
through early May. In the first 10 days of May, police
became a prime target, with the killings in this short time
frame making up over 20 percent of police homicides committed
during the prior four months. High-profile police killings
include:

-- On May 1, unknown gunmen assassinated Robert Velasco
Bravo, head of the Organized Crime Department at the
Secretariat of Public Security (SSP). Velasco was a trusted
and respected colleague of the DEA, a leader in the DEA's
Sensitive Investigative Unit (SIU) Program. Although initial
reports indicated that he died during an attempted robbery,
the discovery of a murder weapon with a silencer and multiple
head wounds suggest that it was a professional hit.

-- On May 3, apparent car-jackers murdered Aristeo Gomez, a
senior administrative officer within the SSP. (Ironically,
the Embassy had been meeting with Gomez just days prior,
discussing the provision of armored cars and other protective
gear for USG-supported vetted units.)

-- On May 3, SSP Secretary Garcia Luna eulogized Velasco, as
well as Gomez, four other PFP officials killed April 17 in
Tijuana, and four PFP officials were killed May 2 in a
confrontation in Culiacan, Sinaloa.

-- On May 7, assassins killed Saul Pena, a senior Ciudad
Juarez (CJ) municipal police officer. He was the third
policeman to be killed in CJ in a 24-hour period and the 20th
police official killed in the city this year. Pena was due
to be named one of CJ's five police commanders.

-- On May 8, a lone gunman shot and killed Edgar Eusebio
Millan Gomez, the Federal Police's General Coordinator for
Regional Security. Police captured the shooter (a recent
prison releasee) told police he had been paid by an unknown
man $10,000 to kill Millan. A close confidant of SSP's
Garcia Luna, Millan coordinated state Federal Police
delegates and was deeply in mixed police-military surges
against the cartels. DEA had warned Millan that the Arturo
BELTRAN-Leyva (ABL) organization reportedly had targeted him
and two other high-ranking Federal Police officials because
of the arrest of ABL's brother.

-- On May 9, Esteban Robles Espinoza (aka "El Lobo"), a top
Mexico City police commander was shot seven times in his car
by four attackers in a minivan near his home in the San Juan
de Aragon neighborhood. Robles headed the Honor and Justice
Commission, an internal affairs unit of the city's Attorney
General's Office.

-- On May 10, deputy police chief of Ciudad Juarez, Juan
Antonio Ramon Garcia, was shot dead. Garcia's name recently
appeared on the top of a hit list found at a monument to dead
officers.

Cause and Effect
----------------

5. (SBU) GOM success in disrupting the cartels )- in the
form of pressure applied through massive military/police
surges along with more targeted arrests based on improved
intelligence -- lies at the heart of the much of the violence
both within and between cartel organizations. Arrests and
killings create power vacuums that criminals seek to fill,
often with guns. While violence is always present in these
organizations, its spread and nature is constantly changing,
always ratcheting upwards in brutality ) from heads rolling
across dance floors, to the assassination of El Chapo
Gunman's 22-year-old son on May 9 (someone we are not even
sure was directly involved in the "family business").

6. (SBU) President Calderon insists the GOM is more
determined than ever to win its war against organized crime.
The violence against police is inevitably intimidating,
however, and top police officials within DEA's Special
Intelligence Unit (SIU) repeatedly have asked to be
reassigned out from the SSP's elite anti-drug unit to "safer"
areas of police work. In 2007, the SSP sought to hire 8,000
new college-educated recruits, but have received applications

MEXICO 00001433 003 OF 003


from barely half that number; the supposition is that
well-educated grads are unwilling to join, for one reason
(the endemic violence) or another (e.g., the continuing low
stature of police in Mexican society).

7. (SBU) For now we have no reason to expect a major shift in
terms of the violence. As long as the GOM keeps the pressure
on the cartels, we can expect continued outbreaks of violence
within and between the cartels as well as in the form of
striking out against authorities.
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 /
GARZA

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