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August 29, 2012 | By Richard Fausset, Los Angeles Times
MEXICO CITY - In the midst of a violent drug war, President Felipe Calderon fired crooked cops by the hundreds, and hired new ones - rigorously vetted and college educated - by the thousands. Salaries were doubled, new standards imposed and officers were subjected to extensive background checks. A trustworthy federal police force was to be one of the most important legacies of Calderon's six-year term. And yet, just months before he is to leave office in December, the president found himself apologizing "profoundly" this week for an incident in which federal police allegedly opened fire on an SUV with diplomatic plates, injuring two Americans.
April 16, 2014 | By Richard Fausset and Cecilia Sanchez
MEXICO CITY - Mexico's drug and corruption crackdown intensified this week with the arrests of the reputed second in command of the Beltran Leyva drug cartel and the mayor of a Michoacan city once controlled by the Knights Templar criminal gang. The detention Tuesday of Uriel Chavez Mendoza, the mayor of Apatzingan, could help government officials persuade the “self-defense” militias in the western state of Michoacan to comply with a newly minted agreement to disband by May 10. Tension between the armed citizen militias and the Knights Templar, a cult-like criminal organization, has made Michoacan one of the most sensitive security problems for the government of President Enrique Peña Nieto.
January 24, 2013 | By Dan Turner
With this month's seizure of 7 tons of marijuana at the U.S.-Mexico border, it's probably time to stop pretending that the assorted statewide legalization measures sweeping the country in recent years are the foundation for a domestic pot-growing industry that will create jobs and can be taxed and regulated like other industries. Marijuana -- medical and otherwise -- has already been largely taken over by the Mexican drug cartels, which enforce their personnel regulations with bullets and do not pay taxes to ship their goods across the border.
April 9, 2014 | By Diana Marcum, Scott Gold and Marisa Gerber
RICHGROVE, Calif. - In March 2013, a man with brooding, mahogany eyes and a walrus mustache traveled from his home in California to visit relatives in Alabama. The trip did not end well. When a business acquaintance insulted Jose Manuel Martinez's daughter, Martinez put two bullets in the man's head, officials said. It was a matter "of family honor," Errek Jett, an Alabama prosecutor, said Wednesday. But it was not, it turned out, the first time he had killed - far from it, authorities believe.
August 8, 2010 | By Tracy Wilkinson and Ken Ellingwood, Los Angeles Times
Nearly four years after President Felipe Calderon launched a military-led crackdown against drug traffickers, the cartels are smuggling more narcotics into the United States, amassing bigger fortunes and extending their dominion at home with such savagery that swaths of Mexico are now in effect without authority. The groups also are expanding their ambitions far beyond the drug trade, transforming themselves into broad criminal empires deeply involved in migrant smuggling, extortion, kidnapping and trafficking in contraband such as pirated DVDs.
December 5, 2012 | By Emily Alpert
The European Union slapped seven companies with nearly $2 billion in fines Wednesday over alleged schemes to fix prices for expensive tubes used in computer monitors and televisions, its heftiest fine ever against what it called “textbook cartels.” EU antitrust watchdogs said electronics companies such as Philips, LG Electronics and Panasonic colluded at meetings across Europe and Asia to control the market for cathode ray tubes, hashing out...
August 30, 2007 | From Times Wire Reports
A suspected high-ranking Gulf drug cartel member wanted in Texas for allegedly threatening to kill U.S. federal agents is believed to be among eight men arrested in a raid on a steak house in Mexico City, government news agency Notimex said. It reported the arrest of Juan Carlos de La Cruz Reyna, a former policeman in the northern state of Tamaulipas.
December 29, 2004 | From Associated Press
Police captured a reputed leader of the Norte del Valle drug cartel Tuesday in a U.S.-backed effort to dismantle the gang. Dagoberto Florez was on a most-wanted list of alleged cocaine kingpins sought by U.S. authorities under a court order handed down in New York in May. The U.S. government had offered a $5-million reward for his capture. Police seized Florez early Tuesday in a rural area outside Medellin, Colombia's second-largest city, the national police chief, Gen.
September 27, 2013 | By Matt Hamilton
An Army officer with more than 20 years in uniform has been indicted in New York, accused of acting as a contract killer and the leader of a band of mercenaries who provided security for international drug cartels, officials said Friday.  Joseph Manuel Hunter, 48, whose nickname was Rambo, and four of his marksmen were arrested this week as part of a long-running undercover operation spanning several continents, federal prosecutors said....
April 25, 2010 | By Richard A. Serrano, Tribune Washington Bureau
Using drug and racketeering statutes and extradition agreements, federal prosecutors are sending a steady parade of Mexican drug lords into U.S. prisons. Although that is having a chilling effect on the smuggling cartels, there is no sign that the convictions are breaking the organizations, which are growing more violent, according to U.S. officials and other experts. Ten cartel leaders from Mexico have been convicted in U.S. courts in the last two years, while three in Chicago and a fourth in Brooklyn, N.Y., have been indicted in major drug racketeering operations involving tons of heroin, cocaine and marijuana.
March 20, 2014 | By Richard Marosi
California has emerged as the major gateway for methamphetamine into the country, with Mexican organized crime groups smuggling an estimated 70% of the U.S. supply through state border crossings, according to a report released Thursday by state Atty. Gen. Kamala D. Harris. The 98-page report on trends in transnational organized crime also cites maritime smuggling, money laundering and criminal alliances between Mexican drug cartels and Southern California gangs as growing public safety threats.
March 10, 2014 | By Richard Fausset
MEXICO CITY - If nothing else, the slaying of cartel boss Nazario Moreno Gonzalez by Mexican soldiers may have burst the bubble of mysticism that had made him one of the stranger figures to emerge in the country's drug war. Moreno, whose nicknames included "El Mas Loco" ("The Craziest"), was a founder of Michoacan state's La Familia drug cartel and its offshoot, the Knights Templar - groups that have moved massive amounts of methamphetamine and other drugs north to the United States.
March 2, 2014 | By Richard Fausset and Richard A. Serrano
MEXICO CITY - With the arrest of Sinaloa cartel boss Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, the leadership of Mexico's largest and most sophisticated illegal drug operation has probably transferred to Ismael "El Mayo" Zambada, a 66-year-old former farmer with a knack for business - and maintaining a low profile. But Zambada is likely to discover, much as Guzman did, that inheriting the throne of top capo comes with a series of complications worthy of a Shakespearean king. Like his predecessor, Zambada is a country boy made good who hails from the badlands of Sinaloa, the traditional heart of Mexican drug-smuggling culture.
February 24, 2014 | By Richard Fausset and Tracy Wilkinson
BADIRAGUATO, Mexico - Now that the Mexican government has nabbed the country's most-wanted drug lord, Fernando Antonio Robles is worried about the future. Robles is a 16-year-old bricklayer's apprentice in the wild drug-producing municipality where Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman grew up. In this hardscrabble patch of mountainous Sinaloa state, more than 74% of the people live in poverty. And yet the tiny county seat is full of fine new, freshly painted houses. Robles knows that many of them were built by El Chapo's men. "A lot of people are going to be unemployed," Robles said while loitering with a friend on the handsome town square, "because a lot of people worked for him. " The arrest of Guzman on Saturday in the resort city of Mazatlan, a few hours' drive and a world away from Badiraguato, was greeted with delight by the Mexican government.
February 23, 2014 | Tracy Wilkinson, Don Bartletti and Richard A. Serrano
Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, one of the world's biggest drug traffickers and Mexico's most-wanted fugitive, was captured Saturday in a joint U.S.-Mexican operation after more than a decade on the run, officials of both countries announced. Guzman was arrested by agents who burst into the seaside condominium in the Sinaloa resort of Mazatlan where he had moved just two days earlier. His capture was a huge symbolic blow to Mexican drug trafficking, a world in which he had reached folk hero status, and an important victory for the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto.
February 22, 2014 | By Richard Fausset and Tracy Wilkinson
MEXICO CITY -- From his naming on the Forbes magazine list of the world's richest billionaires, to his frequent supposed sightings and magical escapes, Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman has been a larger-than-life drug lord who reached mythical proportions in Mexican “narco” folklore. He rose from a simple low-level trafficker from Sinaloa, the cradle of Mexico's opium and marijuana trade, to become the nation's most powerful and elusive fugitive. For Mexicans, the capture of Guzman, reported Saturday to have occurred in a joint operation by Mexican marines and U.S. federal agents in the Sinaloan coastal city of Mazatlan, is somewhat akin to Colombia's killing of Pablo Escobar -- or even the U.S. elimination of Osama bin Laden.
September 6, 2010 | By Tracy Wilkinson, Los Angeles Times
The meandering network of pipes, wells and tankers belonging to the gigantic state oil company Pemex have long been an easy target of crooks and drug traffickers who siphon off natural gas, gasoline and even crude, robbing the Mexican treasury of hundreds of millions of dollars annually. Now the cartels have taken sabotage to a new level: They've hobbled key operations in parts of the Burgos Basin, home to Mexico's biggest natural gas fields. Forced to defer production and curtail drilling and maintenance in a region that spreads through some of Mexico's most dangerous badlands, the world's seventh-largest oil producer has become another casualty of the drug war. In May, gunmen wearing camouflage and tennis shoes kidnapped five Pemex workers as they rode to the front gate of the Gigante No. 1 natural gas plant in the Burgos Basin.
February 16, 2014 | By Richard Fausset
CHILPANCINGO, Mexico - On a cool evening in February, Pioquinto Damian, the head of the Chamber of Commerce here in Guerrero's capital city, was locked away in his downtown apartment, afraid to step outside. He was convinced that the mayor had tried to kill him in an ambush just a few days before. In response, the governor had assigned him 18 heavily armed police officers as bodyguards. A few miles outside town, hundreds of members of autodefensas - vigilante "self-defense" militias composed largely of fed-up farmworkers - were patrolling the streets of semirural suburbs with ancient rifles and shotguns, hoping to rid them of the drug cartel thugs who had terrorized them for years.
February 13, 2014 | By Inkoo Kang
One of the unfortunate echoes of "Breaking Bad" - other than real-life-teachers-turned-meth-cooks - is the proliferation of the principled drug dealer as a character trope. It's certainly possible to make an intelligent film about a coke-peddling antihero, but writer-director Zak Forsman's "Down and Dangerous" merely exploits its cops-versus-cartels backdrop to preen its world-weary scofflaw protagonist, Paul (John T. Woods). Unambitious to the core, "Down and Dangerous" is the perfect flu movie: It's so predictable in its beats and pedestrian in its execution that a viewer can slip in and out of consciousness, confident she won't miss much and will know exactly where in the story she is when she awakes.
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