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Drug Traffickers

June 1, 2012 | By Tracy Wilkinson, Los Angeles Times
CULIACAN, Mexico - For generations, the extended Hernandez family tended fields of marijuana high in Sinaloa's western Sierra Madre highlands. They sold their crops to representatives of the Sinaloa cartel for a fraction of what the drug would bring at the U.S. border and eked out a pittance. Barefoot children never went to school; they just helped their dads with the planting and harvest. Women washed clothes in the river. They burned pine sap for light at night because there was no electricity.
May 19, 2012 | By Richard Marosi and Ken Ellingwood, Los Angeles Times
SAN DIEGO - Alleged drug kingpin Victor Emilio Cazares, among the most wanted trafficking suspects in the United States, has been arrested in Mexico, U.S. and Mexican officials say, despite having changed his appearance through plastic surgery. A senior U.S. law enforcement official in Mexico confirmed this week that Cazares was captured April 8 at a highway checkpoint near the western city of Guadalajara. Mexican authorities on Friday confirmed Cazares was in custody. Mexican authorities did not make the arrest public at the time, and it has not been previously reported.
April 13, 2012 | By Christi Parsons and Brian Bennett, Los Angeles Times
CARTAGENA, Colombia - President Obama will highlight trade and business opportunities in Latin America at a regional summit in Colombia this weekend, but other leaders may upstage him by pushing to legalize marijuana and other illicit drugs in a bid to stem rampant trafficking. Obama, who opposes decriminalization, is expected to face a rocky reception in this Caribbean resort city, which otherwise forms a friendly backdrop for a U.S. president courting Latino voters in an election year.
January 1, 2012 | By Mark Olsen, Special to the Los Angeles Times
With a title that translates as the punning "Miss Bullet," the Mexican film "Miss Bala" is based in part on the real-life story of a beauty pageant winner who was arrested alongside a drug gang and paraded before the media amid accusations of corruption behind her crown. It aims to not only be a provocative, thoughtful action film for the art house, looking at the overwhelming problems of the drug-trafficking epidemic in Mexico, but "Miss Bala" also marks an ambitiously bold step forward for director Gerardo Naranjo.
November 27, 2011 | By Ken Ellingwood and Tracy Wilkinson, Los Angeles Times
The U.S. government has blacklisted more Mexican individuals and companies this year than any other single country or group — and that includes North Korea, Iran, Syria and Al Qaeda. Three hundred Mexicans and 180 Mexican companies are on the so-called kingpin designation list, the Treasury Department's roster of people and entities suspected of laundering money for drug traffickers or working for them in other capacities. U.S. banks, companies and people are barred from doing business with them.
November 14, 2011 | By Tracy Wilkinson, Los Angeles Times
The manner in which drug traffickers have undermined Mexico's democracy was illustrated Sunday in Michoacan, home state of President Felipe Calderon and site of violent local elections. Dozens of candidates dropped out of their races because of threats from drug-trafficking cartels. A mayor was assassinated a week before the vote as he campaigned on behalf of Calderon's sister, who is running for governor. Luisa Maria Calderon led most polls going into Sunday's vote, and her win could serve as a morale boost for her brother's conservative National Action Party, or PAN, ahead of next year's presidential election.
November 14, 2011 | By Tracy Wilkinson and Cecilia Sanchez, Los Angeles Times
President Felipe Calderon's sister appears to have lost her bid for governor of Michoacan during violent state elections, and she alleged Monday that drug traffickers helped tip the race in favor of one of her opponents. Preliminary results gave the lead in the race for governor of the western state to Fausto Vallejo of the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI. "The intervention by organized crime during the entire election process and especially yesterday is alarming, not just for Michoacan but for the entire country," Luisa Maria Calderon said in a radio interview a day after Sunday's vote.
November 2, 2011 | By Carol J. Williams, Los Angeles Times
A federal appeals court panel struck the conviction of a drug runner Tuesday because a prosecutor had suggested to a San Diego jury that an acquittal would "send a memo to all drug traffickers" that they could get away with smuggling if they claimed they were being threatened by Mexican cartels. The three-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals said the conviction of Arturo Sanchez was the result of "improper argument" designed to stir jurors' passions, fears and vulnerabilities.
October 14, 2011 | By Ken Ellingwood, Los Angeles Times
A high-ranking member of the Zetas crime group suspected of widespread drug trafficking has been arrested, Mexican officials said Thursday. Carlos Oliva Castillo, known as "Frog," was captured Wednesday in the northern city of Saltillo, where he allegedly ran drug-trafficking operations spanning several states, said Col. Ricardo Trevilla, spokesman for the armed forces. Gunmen sought to rescue Oliva by trying to distract soldiers with gunfire around the city, authorities said.
October 7, 2011 | By Phil Willon, Los Angeles Times
Authorities arrested 10 members of the Vagos motorcycle gang suspected of drug trafficking and a rash of violence during a series of raids early Thursday across Southern California, a crackdown that comes less than two weeks after a Vagos member allegedly killed a rival Hells Angels member at a Nevada casino. The arrests were the result of an 18-month investigation led by state investigators into one of the most "violent criminal" motorcycle gangs in the nation, authorities said.
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