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Drug Cartels

August 9, 2008 | Richard Marosi, Times Staff Writer
In Mexico's drug war, Gen. Sergio Aponte Polito racked up crime-fighting credentials worthy of the Dark Knight, making record seizures of drugs and weapons and forcing out top Baja California law enforcement officials he accused of corruption and of having links to organized crime.
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.
January 5, 2011
Mexico has some of the strictest gun laws in the hemisphere. Citizens are permitted to buy low-caliber firearms for self-protection or hunting, but only after a background check and approval by the defense ministry; they must also purchase the guns directly from the ministry. The goal of this parsimonious approach to allotting firearms is a society free from gun violence. Unfortunately for Mexico, however, its weapons management strategy is sabotaged by an accident of location ? its residence next door to the gun capital of the world.
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.
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 21, 2009 | Tracy Wilkinson
In the tense state of Durango, Roman Catholic Archbishop Hector Gonzalez announced over the weekend that the fugitive drug trafficker who tops Mexico's most wanted list was living nearby. And everyone knows it, he added. Except, it would seem, the authorities, who fail to make an arrest. A shocking revelation indeed.
July 19, 2009 | Sacha Feinman
On a cloudless afternoon in northern Sonora, migrants and drug runners lounge in equal numbers under scattered mesquite trees, playing cards or sipping water. The sun climbs high and the temperature rises well over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. In such heat, nothing, human or otherwise, moves more than required. Known as La Sierrita, this otherwise unremarkable patch of Mexican desert is a final stop for those looking to enter the U.S. illegally. The Arizona border is only a 40-minute walk north.
December 1, 2012 | By Daniel Hernandez
MEXICO CITY -- "Excuse me, Mr. President. I cannot say you are welcome here, because for me, you are not. No one is. " The woman's voice trembled with bitterness and apprehension. She stood just  a few feet away  from a low stage where Mexican President Felipe Calderon, his wife, Margarita Zavala, and top members of his Cabinet were seated at a tightly controlled forum in Ciudad Juarez on  Feb. 11, 2010. "No one is doing anything! I want justice, not just for my children, but for all of the children," she went on. "Juarez is in mourning!"
August 16, 2010 | By Tracy Wilkinson, Los Angeles Times
A new word has been written into the lexicon of Mexico's drug war: narco-censorship. It's when reporters and editors, out of fear or caution, are forced to write what the traffickers want them to write, or to simply refrain from publishing the whole truth in a country where members of the press have been intimidated, kidnapped and killed. That big shootout the other day near a Reynosa shopping mall? Convoys of gunmen whizzed through the streets and fired on each other for hours, paralyzing the city.
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....
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
January 28, 2011 | By Nicholas Riccardi and Tracy Wilkinson, Los Angeles Times
A 59-year-old American missionary was shot in the head and killed in northern Mexico, possibly because one of the local drug cartels coveted her heavy-duty pickup truck, authorities said Thursday. Nancy Davis' husband, Sam, drove the bullet-riddled blue 2008 Chevrolet against traffic to the border Wednesday afternoon. He crossed the bridge into Pharr, Texas, where he told authorities that the couple had been ambushed about 70 miles south of the border on a Mexican highway by gunmen in a black pickup, according to the Pharr Police Department.
December 18, 2010 | By Ken Ellingwood and Tracy Wilkinson, Los Angeles Times
The curly-haired suspect in the sweatshirt faced the flash of news cameras, looking impossibly small. "When did you start to kill?" he was asked. "How much did you earn?" "How many did you execute?" He said he began killing at age 11. A drug cartel paid him $200 a week. He'd killed four people. "How?" came the final question. "I cut their throats," he replied. Then masked Mexican soldiers hustled him off, the way they do other drug suspects. The detainee's name was Edgar Jimenez Lugo, but everyone knew him as Ponchi.
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.
December 20, 2013 | 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.
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