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WORLD
February 6, 2014 | By Cecilia Sanchez and Richard Fausset
MEXICO CITY - Four human heads were reportedly discovered Thursday in Michoacan state, one of several recent incidents that suggest the Knights Templar drug cartel may be lashing out as the federal government and vigilante groups attempt to retake territory under cartel control. The heads were found in the indigenous community of Zacan, about 200 miles west of Mexico City, according to numerous news reports. The newspaper El Universal reported that a "message with threats from organized crime" was found along with the body parts.
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WORLD
January 30, 2014 | By Richard Fausset and Cecilia Sanchez
MEXICO CITY -- Mexico's attorney general said Thursday that he has proof that some of the arms being used by the vigilante “self-defense” groups of Michoacan state were supplied by a drug cartel, the Jalisco New Generation, according to news reports. The self-defense groups sprang up last February to take on a drug cartel called the Knights Templar. Many members are rural landowners and farmworkers fed up with the harassment and extortion by the Knights Templars. But there has been wide speculation that the groups had some connection to, or support from, the New Generation, a rival of the Knights Templar.
WORLD
January 25, 2014 | By Richard Fausset
MEXICO CITY - Boots on the ground was the easy part. Last week, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto sent a massive surge of military and federal police to embattled Michoacan state. The federal forces currently patrolling its cities, highways and backroads have brought a tenuous peace to a region that had faced a potential showdown between the dominant Knights Templar drug cartel and armed vigilante militias that emerged to drive the cartel off. Now Peña Nieto must find a long-term solution for the troubled area known as Tierra Caliente, or Hot Land, where years of corruption and neglect - and the subsequent tyranny imposed by criminals - have eroded faith in government authority at all levels, allowing civil society to all but unravel.
WORLD
January 19, 2014 | By Richard Fausset
NUEVA ITALIA, Mexico - Father Patricio Madrigal Diaz was sitting in a big, empty church describing the moment the ragtag "self-defense" forces came barreling into town bearing AK-47s - and a promise to free this farming community from the suffocating grip of the drug cartel. The cleric was finishing Sunday Mass in a tiny stucco chapel north of town last week when his flock was alarmed by a rumble of tires. Some ran home. Others shut the church windows tight. " Se va a poner feo ," they told Father Patricio.
WORLD
January 15, 2014 | By Richard Fausset
OUTSIDE NUEVA ITALIA, Mexico - The men came down from the highlands to the north of here. They were armed with shotguns, shod in sneakers and dusty boots. Their aim was to rid the Michoacan city of Nueva Italia of the dreaded Knights Templar drug cartel. They rolled into town Sunday morning, disarmed the local police, and declared themselves in control, joined by scores of men from other towns who also consider themselves part of Michoacan's vigilante "self-defense" movement. Their next goal was to invade the larger city of Apatzingan, an even bigger cartel stronghold, and take it over too. But by Wednesday afternoon, this group of 15 men from the modest agricultural hub of Tancitaro were still hanging around Nueva Italia, their shotguns hidden away.
WORLD
January 14, 2014 | By Richard Fausset and Cecilia Sanchez
MEXICO CITY - Mexican troops and federal police poured into the state of Michoacan on Tuesday in an attempt to restore order after clashes with the rural "self-defense" groups that at times have been their allies against the Knights Templar drug cartel. The standoff with the vigilantes amounts to a policy and public relations nightmare for a federal government that has long accorded mythic status to the Mexican campesino who takes up arms to combat injustice. The Michoacan vigilantes have embraced the image, though there is widespread suspicion that at least some of the locals are secretly backed by rivals in the deadly drug game.
WORLD
January 13, 2014 | By Richard Fausset
MEXICO CITY - Federal authorities rushed Monday to head off a mini-civil war in the "hot land" of Mexico's Michoacan state, urging rural vigilantes to lay down their arms and go home rather than attempt to seize a city of 90,000 that has become a stronghold of a drug cartel calling itself the Knights Templar. The armed peasant groups emerged last year to fight off the cartel, which had metastasized throughout the southwestern state, coordinating the lucrative methamphetamine trade and extortion rackets and wielding significant control over the major container port of Lazaro Cardenas.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
December 30, 2013 | Richard Fausset
Mike O'Connor, an experienced war correspondent who in recent years worked in defense of journalists in Mexico at a time when it had become one of the most treacherous countries for reporters in the world, died Sunday morning in Mexico City. He was 67. O'Connor suffered a fatal heart attack while sleeping in his apartment, according to his wife, Tracy Wilkinson, the Los Angeles Times' Mexico bureau chief. Since January 2009, O'Connor had worked as the Mexico representative for the Committee to Protect Journalists, a New York-based nonprofit group, traveling to some of the most dangerous parts of the country to investigate the intimidation, murder and disappearance of journalists targeted by drug cartels or corrupt government officials.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
December 20, 2013 | By Tracy Wilkinson
Handpicked for the job by the Mexican president, praised by the U.S. government for his honesty, army Gen. Jose de Jesus Gutierrez Rebollo seemed the perfect man to serve as drug czar. But barely 11 weeks into the job, Gutierrez Rebollo was fired in February 1997 and later convicted of working for a cartel he was tasked to fight. To this day, the Gutierrez Rebollo case remains a prime example of the extent to which drug corruption can permeate Mexico's most important institutions.
WORLD
December 19, 2013 | By Tracy Wilkinson
MEXICO CITY -- Handpicked for the job by the Mexican president, praised by the U.S. government for his honesty, army Gen. Jose de Jesus Gutierrez Rebollo seemed the perfect man to serve as drug czar. But barely 11 weeks on the job, Gutierrez Rebollo was fired in February 1997 and later convicted of working for a cartel he was tasked to fight. To this day, the Gutierrez Rebollo case remains a prime example of the extent to which drug corruption can permeate Mexico's most important institutions.
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