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Cablegate: Violence Spikes As New Administration Takes the Reins

VZCZCXRO2368
PP RUEHCD RUEHGD RUEHHO RUEHNG RUEHNL RUEHRD RUEHRS RUEHTM
DE RUEHMC #0386/01 2892017
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 162017Z OCT 09
FM AMCONSUL MONTERREY
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3998
INFO RUEHME/AMEMBASSY MEXICO PRIORITY 5073
RUEHXC/ALL US CONSULATES IN MEXICO COLLECTIVE
RUEABND/DEA HQ WASHDC
RHMFIUU/FBI WASHINGTON DC
RUEFHLC/DEPT OF HOMELAND SECURITY WASHINGTON DC
RHMFIUU/HQ USNORTHCOM
RUEHMC/AMCONSUL MONTERREY 9609

230107
2009-10-16 20:17:00
09MONTERREY386
Consulate Monterrey
UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY
09MONTERREY250|09MONTERREY379
VZCZCXRO2368
PP RUEHCD RUEHGD RUEHHO RUEHNG RUEHNL RUEHRD RUEHRS RUEHTM
DE RUEHMC #0386/01 2892017
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 162017Z OCT 09
FM AMCONSUL MONTERREY
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3998
INFO RUEHME/AMEMBASSY MEXICO PRIORITY 5073
RUEHXC/ALL US CONSULATES IN MEXICO COLLECTIVE
RUEABND/DEA HQ WASHDC
RHMFIUU/FBI WASHINGTON DC
RUEFHLC/DEPT OF HOMELAND SECURITY WASHINGTON DC
RHMFIUU/HQ USNORTHCOM
RUEHMC/AMCONSUL MONTERREY 9609

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 MONTERREY 000386

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ASEC SNAR KCRM PHUM PGOV MX
SUBJECT: VIOLENCE SPIKES AS NEW ADMINISTRATION TAKES THE REINS

REF: A) MONTERREY 250 B) MONTERREY 379

MONTERREY 00000386 001.2 OF 002


1. (SBU) Within two weeks of taking office, Nuevo Leon Governor
Rodrigo Medina and his security team face a dramatic increase in
violence. While such violence is hardly new to the state, its
capital Monterrey has in the last week experienced three
dramatic gun battles in public spaces, two of them sowing panic
as citizens ducked for cover in an attempt to escape the
crossfire. Heightened tensions between security forces and
increasing brazenness on the part organized crime may indicate a
desire to test the resolve of the new administration in making
good on its campaign promise to cleanse public security forces
of corruption and take the fight to organized crime.

Gunmen Attempt to Rescue Accomplices at Rush Hour on Major
Highway
--------------------------------------------- --------------
-------

2. (SBU) On October 8 at approximately 3:00 p.m., municipal
police pulled over a driver for drinking alcoholic beverages
while operating his vehicle. What started as a routine traffic
stop apparently turned violent as police discovered firearms and
determined that the vehicle was stolen. Juan Jose Vazquez
Marin, AKA "El Orejon," or "El Guero," attempted to assault
officers, who took him and his four companions, Jose Enrique
Perez Guerrero, Angel Mario Valdez Navarro, Juan Antonio Aguirre
Garcia, and Candalario Mendoza Rodriguez, into custody. Shortly
after delivering these individuals to the custody of federal
police in Linares, a municipality approximately 80 miles
southeast of Monterrey, those agents started receiving phone
calls demanding the release of the detainees: they elected to
transfer the suspects immediately to their regional headquarters
in downtown Monterrey.

3. (SBU) Driving northbound on the Avenida Eugenio Garza Sada
as it passed by the neighborhood Contry la Silla, federal police
spotted an approaching convoy of four vehicles led by a Hummer,
and immediately called for reinforcements. The convoy
intercepted the federal police at approximately 4:50 p.m., and
both sides exchanged gunfire amid rush hour traffic for
approximately 10 minutes before reinforcements arrived and the
gunmen fled the scene, abandoning three vehicles and carjacking
another to escape. The fight took place among congested
traffic, which locked up almost immediately as drivers attempted
to take cover and avoid the crossfire. Surprisingly, this
firefight lead to only minor injuries among bystanders. Vazquez
and his companions were ultimately transferred to the regional
headquarters, under heavy military escort, then later to
military custody, and now await proceedings in the maximum
security prison at Cadereyta, 15 miles east of Monterrey.
(Comment: Reports conflict as to the role Vazquez and his men
play in local criminal organizations. Some indicate that he is
a member of the Zetas, taking over for Saul Bonifacio Martinez
Hernandez, AKA "El Tiburon," killed in an engagement with the
army on September 4 at Presa la Boca. Others identify him as
simply a member of the Gulf Cartel. End comment.)

Residents Call for Help as Gun Battle Rages Outside
--------------------------------------------- ------

4. (SBU) According to eyewitness accounts, on October 12,
around 6:20 p.m., eight men in three vehicles pursued another
two to four individuals - all armed - back to a residence in the
metropolitan Monterrey neighborhood of Indeco Naranjo, where
they engaged in an extended gunfight for approximately 30
minutes before fleeing, leaving behind shells matching the
calibers of AR-15 rifles and hand guns. Neighbors testify that
they took cover and made repeated calls to the local police
station, located only a few blocks from the incident. However,
police did not respond to those calls, arriving only after the
army was already at the scene. According to government sources,
one unidentified individual was apprehended at the scene.
(Comment. A similar event occurred in the Monterrey
neighborhood of Cumbres Oro in Monterrey on Aug 13, when a
gunfight between approximately 15 assailants and presumed
members of the Arturo Beltran Leyva organization raged for
approximately one hour, with no police response. End comment.)

Soldiers and State, Municipal Police Exchange Gunfire
--------------------------------------------- ---------

5. (SBU) According to media reports, on the night of October
12, the army received an anonymous phone call alerting it to an
exchange of cash filled briefcases between elements of organized
crime and police units in the neighborhood of Santa Martha in
Escobedo, a municipality of metropolitan Monterrey. The army
deployed to the location in Santa Martha shortly after midnight

MONTERREY 00000386 002.2 OF 002


on the morning of October 13, where soldiers confronted state
and municipal police units.

6. (SBU) Further details of this confrontation are unclear.
One source claims that a conflict ensued, with soldiers striking
four to five police officers, and somebody discharged a firearm.
According to this account, as soldiers attempted to leave the
area, they were met by a second group of approximately 70 state
and municipal police officers and an exchange of gunfire ensued
in which only one police officer was injured. (Note: Pablo
Tomargo, Director of the state's Center of Computing,
Communication, Coordination and Control (C5) told the media that
a confirmed source called the C5 to alert it to the initial
conflict between soldiers and police, resulting in a second
large deployment of state security forces. End note.) Another
source presents a slightly different story, suggesting that four
soldiers attempted to search a group of state police they met in
a gas station, who resisted the soldiers, and, joined by more
police, actually surrounded them and threatened them with arms.
According to this source, the situation was defused and the
soldiers released on the condition that the Seventh Military
Zone would identify the soldiers, and in case of legal
proceedings, would submit them to military justice. This
version of events concludes with state and municipal police
voicing invectives against state Secretary of Public Security
Carlos Juaregui, whose agency oversees state police operations.

Comment:
--------

7. (SBU) Post acknowledges that neither version of this
conflict seems credible. More significantly, officials have
done little to clarify the details of the confrontation, instead
making efforts to minimize the event. In a public meeting
between state Secretary of Government Javier Trevino, Secretary
of Public Security Carlos Juaregui, Attorney General Alejandro
Garza, and Seventh Military Zone army commanders of the,
officials dismissed the confrontation as an "argument between
cousins." Secretary Trevino was careful to emphasize that the
event "did not represent a conflict between institutions, but a
concrete situation between individuals." He did acknowledge
that some individuals had been detained, and one injured in the
foot; however, according to Escobedo Mayor Margarita Lopez, five
policemen appear to have been beaten, with one suffering a
concussion, and another fractured ribs. (Note: this is not the
first time security forces have faced off against each other in
Monterrey. On June 8 of this year, municipal police, many also
from Escobedo, engaged in a tense standoff with Federal Police
in an attempt to prevent the detention of a colleague accused of
working with the Gulf Cartel. Army units later stripped these
municipal police of their long arms (reftel A.)

Things Likely to Get Worse Before They Get Better
--------------------------------------------- ----

8. (SBU) While all three of these events have antecedents in
the prior year, it seems that the open defiance on the part of
organized crime as well as the tension between security forces
has increased in recent weeks. This takes place in the context
of new state and municipal administrations taking office and
proposing dramatic changes intended to confront organized crime,
ranging from Governor Medina's initiative to unify municipal and
state police forces under a single command to the formation of a
special "cleansing" unit to search out criminals under San
Pedro's Mayor Elect Mauricio Fernandez (reftel B). At an
October 16 meeting with the Consul General and Legatt, incoming
Nuevo Leon state Attorney General Alejandro Garza y Garza
acknowledged drug cartel infiltration of city, state and even
federal police. It seems likely that with a new team in charge,
many extant agreements between compromised security forces and
criminal groups are falling apart. Reforms to public security
forces proposed by new leadership - if effective at all - will
take significant time to realize any real gains. Meanwhile,
Nuevo Leon will likely see a continued increase in violence as
competing forces struggle to reach a new equilibrium.
WILLIAMSON

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