Hey there drug war fans, I got some statistics to throw your way. While you gringos pay attention to the unemployment rate and foreclosure statistics, we here in Mexico track the national kill count—how many people died, who suffered the losses and where the action went down. The latest numbers were just released: they are compiled by the federal government, so they are not 100% accurate. For starters, the body count should be higher. But hey, with over 20,000 dead, the situation looks bad enough to me, whether they fudged the numbers or not.
- 22,000+ Killed since start of war against narcotraffic, from Dec. 2006 to Mar. 2010 (when president Calderon started his term).
- 3,300+ Killed from Jan. to March 2010.
Arrests w/breakdown by cartel*
- 121,000 Narco-arrests since 2006.
- – 27% Gulf Cartel/Zetas.
- -24% Pacific/Sinaloa Cartel.
- -17% Cartel de Juarez
- -14% Beltran Leyva
- -13% Arellano Felix
*no specific number given
Violence has been on the rise because of territorial realignment, fragmentation of the cartels and internal restructuring . Law enforcement agents of all branches (state, federal, military) have now become targets for sicarios.
- 1,286 Firefights counted form December 2008 to March 2010.
- 977 Narcos against authorities.
- 309 Narcos against narcos.
Casualties by region
- 6,757 Official narco-related deaths in Chihuahua since Calderon started his term
- (4,324 From the city of Ciudad Juarez alone)
- 3,136 In Sinaloa, the cradle of narco-traffickers.
- 1,826 In Guerrero.
Intelligence: Cartel on Cartel warfare
Cartels team up on the Zetas: The new phase of the war appears to be an offensive to exterminate the Zetas by an alliance between the Sinaloa Cartel, the Gulf Cartel and the Michoacan Family. They claim to be doing this because the Zetas corrupted the business and preyed on the civilian population, which brought too much attention and became bad for business. So they are looking to go back to the old days. Civilians are getting war-weary and accept don’t mind this “social cleansing” campaign so long as the kidnappings, car thefts and extortions stop.
The Sinaloa Cartel expands territory: They are taking advantage of the chaos to exterminate their other rivals, like the Beltran Leyva. In the last couple of months they started turning the Nayarit riviera and Acapulco into the usual macabre circus act of decapitated bodies, bullet-ridden cars and piles of charred bodies. The DEA is Sinaloa Cartel’s #1 admirer and PR Agent and it claims that El Chapo Guzman is winning the war against Vicente Carrillo Fuentes and his Juarez Cartel. That means Sinaloa is the lord of the routes into the US.
The Sinaloa Cartel appears to be using the violence to consolidate territory, secure and expand shipment routes and some cross-border access—then start moving product into America. War or no war, they got a job to do.
West side calm: In the Pacific they have an alliance in Michoacan with the Milenio Cartel and the Family; And in Jalisco, with the old school capo Nacho Coronel. But Oaxaca, Guerrero and Nayarit are pretty much controlled by what remains of the Beltran Leyva Cartel.
The importance of the Pacific lies in all of its many ports–this means they can receive container ships full of the necessary ingredients to make synthetic drugs, or receive cocaine from South America. Control of the Pacific is vital to ensure reliable imports of product into the country.
The in-land routes serve to move the drugs closer to the border, which they do by hiding the goods in trailer trucks masquerading as fruit transport or whatever they think of, whatever regularly goes to and from the border towns.
Of course, the air and the sea can still be used to move drugs inside the country, but the main destination is always the United States: market número uno.
Border cities see the most action: The jewel cities of the drug trade are the border towns: Tijuana, Ciudad Juarez and Nuevo Laredo. Border cities are important for the cross-border highway access and non-stop flow of traffic: cars, trucks, tourists and semis—all provide a lot of space to stash dope. Anybody who controls these cities has a gold mine, and the Sinaloa Cartel is craving them real bad.
That’s why Ciudad Juarez has been turning into an ever-worsening blood-bath: ever since El Chapo sent his sicarios to capture the plaza in 2008, it’s been 2 years of going from bad to worse to worse-than-bad. (Remember, more than 4,000 people have been killed here over the past two years.)
The last jewel left unsnatched appears to be Tijuana, the main plaza of the Arellano Felix Cartel, which now has total control of the border. So don’t be surprised if it starts going to hell again. It’s just business, Mexican Drug Cartel style.
Pancho Montana is an eXiled Special Mexican War on Drugs Correspondent.
As a native of Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, located in northern Mexico, Mr. Montana lives in Gulf Cartel territory. That means the streets belong to the Zetas, a paramilitary organization trained by the Yankees and hired by the Gulf Cartel to keep things civilized and business booming.
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