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Cablegate: Soldier Killings Prompt New Deployments in Guerrero

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DE RUEHME #3779/01 3591342
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 241342Z DEC 08 ZDS
FM AMEMBASSY MEXICO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4496
INFO RUEHXC/ALL US CONSULATES IN MEXICO COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEAHLA/DEPT OF HOMELAND SECURITY PRIORITY
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UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 MEXICO 003779

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PINR PREL SNAR MX
SUBJECT: SOLDIER KILLINGS PROMPT NEW DEPLOYMENTS IN GUERRERO

MEXICO 00003779 001.2 OF 002


C O R R E C T E D C O P Y - CAPTION ADDED

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: The Mexican military has deployed over 300
members of elite units as part of its efforts to track down
the perpetrators of the killings and beheadings of eight
military soldiers, seven whose bodies were discovered early
December 21 in Guerrero and another on December 9. The
assassinations of the seven soldiers reportedly were
connected to a firefight two days before in which three
individuals were killed and after which the army detained
seven civilians. The Office of the Attorney General is
conducting an investigation. President Calderon and the
Mexican Congress condemned the killings of soldiers and
called for a firm response. Some analysts anticipate that
the Mexican military will step up operations nationwide
targeting organized crime as a result of these and other
brutal killings of its own personnel, but opine it will need
better intelligence amongst other capabilities for long-term
success. END SUMMARY.

2. (U) According to a Secretariat of National Defense
(SEDENA) press release, seven members of the Mexican military
and an ex-Director of the State Police were found killed and
decapitated in Chilpancingo, State of Guerrero early in the
morning of December 21. The heads of the victims were left
in a bag found next to a Sam's Club supermarket in
Chilpancingo with an unsigned message, "For every one that
you kill, we will kill ten." The bodies, which showed signs
of torture, were found in two places off the highway between
Acapulco and Cuernavaca. Another body of a soldier was found
on December 9. Reports indicate that the seven soldiers were
intercepted the evening of December 20, one by one, as they
were leaving the military installations of the 41st infantry
batallion in Chilpancingo. The crime was reportedly
connected to a firefight the day before in the town of
Teololapan, Guerrero (located some 60 miles northwest of
Chilpancingo) which resulted in the deaths of three gunmen
and the military's detention of seven individuals. The
Office of the Mexican Attorney General (PGR) is conducting an
investigation into these killings as well as the seven
civilians who were detained in the firefight.

3. (U) The Mexican Government has responded quickly and
forcefully to these killings. President Felipe Calderon
insisted violence would not "intimidate the armed forces" and
that his government would firmly take the fight to the
cartels, which represent a threat to Mexican society. The
Permanent Commission of the Mexican Congress -- the caretaker
group managing Congress' agenda while the Congress is in
recess -- condemned the killings, called for a quick
investigation, and insisted the government should not stand
down in the face of this violence. The Commander of the
Ninth Military Region Enrique Alonso Garrido described the
attack on the soldiers as a "grave error" on the part of
Mexico's criminal elements and declared "open war" on crime.

4. (U) As of December 23, the army had established
checkpoints around Chilpancingo; four helicopters and an
airplane also reportedly were flying over the city on a
regular basis. Separately, the military brought in over 300
members of its Special Forces Airmobile Group (GAFE) and
deployed troops to nine municipalities in Guerrero to conduct
searches in areas of the state out of which hired killers of
the cartels are thought to operate. SEDENA and Mexico's
Ministry of Interior speculate the Zetas were responsible for
the killings based on the message that accompanied the
bodies.

5. (SBU) COMMENT: The gruesome killing of these seven
soldiers represents the cartels' most brazen attack on the
military since Calderon came into office in 2006 and declared
war on organized crime. Just two months ago, in October, 13
soldiers were killed -- five of whom were beheaded -- in
Nuevo Leon. However, those killings occurred over the span
of a week in several separate events and it still isn't clear
whether those soldiers were killed in retaliation for an
earlier drug bust or because they were involved in
narcotrafficking. In this latest instance, however, the
killers' own message indicates they chillingly targeted the
soldiers in revenge for some prior assault on the region's
criminal network. Some analysts believe these latest
killings could prove a tipping point in prompting the Mexican
military to take on a significantly more aggressive approach
in going after the narcotraffickers. Of course, these same
experts also point out that to be successful -- in addition
to more manpower and equipment -- the army and Mexico's
security forces in general need more intelligence about where

MEXICO 00003779 002.2 OF 002


the cartels are and how they operate. END COMMENT.

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 /
PARNELL

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