January 1, 2010 |
Almost everything to do with the Mexican government's war against drugs is wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong. The threat from narco-trafficking is overblown. Fighting cartels won't stop the flow of illegal drugs or erase Mexican corruption. The real battle over drugs lies on the U.S. side of the border. That's the gist of a provocative new book that challenges virtually every premise on which Mexican President Felipe Calderon has based his 3-year-old offensive against drug cartels. "El Narco: La Guerra Fallida" ("Narco: The Failed War")
December 30, 2009 |
Reporting from Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, and San Pedro Garza Garcia, Mexico -- The mayor had good news: A notorious thug from one of the drug cartels had been found killed. Hector "El Negro" Saldana would no longer menace the people of San Pedro Garza Garcia, Mexico. Trouble was, Saldana's body hadn't yet been discovered when Mayor Mauricio Fernandez made the announcement with a flourish at his swearing-in ceremony in October. How did Fernandez know about Saldana's demise hours before investigators found the body stuffed in a car hundreds of miles away in Mexico City?
December 23, 2009 |
The young marine received the highest military honors that the Mexican state could offer. Killed during a raid that ended the life of a notorious drug lord, the marine was buried a hero, ushered to his grave by an honor guard of commandos in camouflage, his mother awarded a folded flag. Hours later, the grieving mother, the marine's sister, his brother and an aunt were mowed down by gunmen in a revenge attack that sent a chilling message to the Mexican military combating drug traffickers.
December 22, 2009 |
The dead drug lord lay on his back, blood-soaked jeans yanked down to the knees. Mexican peso notes carpeted his bullet-torn body, and U.S. $100 bills formed neat rows next to his bared belly. The gory photograph of Arturo Beltran Leyva, one of Mexico's most wanted kingpins, was among those widely published here during the last few days following his death in a shootout Wednesday with Mexican marines in Cuernavaca, capital of the central state of Morelos. Even in a country where pictures of gruesome crime scenes routinely show up on the front pages of newspapers, the Beltran Leyva images have stirred controversy over who staged the tableau and whether Mexican authorities did so to send a taunting message to the rest of his powerful drug trafficking gang.
December 18, 2009 |
He was one of Mexico's most notorious drug traffickers, embroiled in fights to the death with rival gangsters and the Mexican military. His crude signature -- proclaiming him the "boss of bosses" -- showed up regularly next to the headless bodies of his foes. So when Arturo Beltran Leyva fell dead Wednesday night during a frenzied gunfight with Mexican naval commandos, authorities declared a major blow struck against one of Mexico's meanest smuggling groups. "This action represents an important achievement for the people and government of Mexico and a heavy blow against one of the most dangerous criminal organizations in Mexico," President Felipe Calderon said Thursday from Copenhagen, where he was attending an international climate conference.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
December 3, 2009 |
LAPD detectives are investigating whether the shooting of two men at a North Hollywood synagogue in October is the work of Israeli-connected organized crime. The Oct. 29 shooting ignited fear that it was a hate crime, but Los Angeles police officials quickly ruled that out. In the last few weeks, LAPD investigators have concentrated their resources on the idea that the shootings were designed to silence someone. "It is something we are looking at, but we have made no definitive conclusions," Deputy Chief Michael Downing, head of the LAPD's Counter Terrorism and Criminal Intelligence Bureau, told The Times.
November 22, 2009 |
Around here, the grim joke goes, most people work for the government or the mafias. Or both. Richard Padilla Cramer apparently had bested the temptations that come with the territory. During three decades in border law enforcement, he made the most of his pitch-perfect Spanish and talent for undercover work. He locked up corrupt officials, racked up drug busts and rose through the ranks. He retired after a coveted stint as a U.S. attache for Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Mexico, the land he had left as a child.
October 13, 2009 |
International law enforcement officials, including deputy U.S. Atty. Gen. David Ogden, called today for a far more coordinated global response to the growing threat of organized crime syndicates, which they said are increasingly teaming up with terrorist networks and drug traffickers to pose an unprecedented national security threat to the United States and its allies. Speaking at the 78th general assembly of the global police agency Interpol in Singapore, Ogden and some of his counterparts acknowledged that they need to do much more to work together on many fronts, including attacking the money laundering pipelines that are enabling the crime syndicates to flourish in terror hot spots such as Pakistan and Afghanistan and other strategic locations such as Europe, Africa and Latin America.
September 16, 2009 |
A TV show host turned political star was ousted as Lithuania's Parliament speaker amid a scandal sparked by a photo of him with a member of a criminal gang. Arunas Valinskas, a charismatic TV satirist who once hosted the Lithuanian version of "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire," was thrown out of the powerful post in a 95-20 vote that included members of his National Resurrection Party. A leading daily paper published a story in July that accused Valinskas of ties with an organized-crime syndicate in Kaunas, Lithuania's second-largest city.
August 22, 2009 |
This just in: Mexico may not be as violent as everyone thinks. Yes, a drug war has killed more than 11,000 people since the end of 2006. Severed heads and heaps of bodies turn up as traffickers battle Mexican forces and one another. Some days, the nationwide toll from drug-related slayings tops 30. (One Mexican newspaper website tallies the carnage on its "Execute-o-meter.") Looked at another way, though, Mexico isn't as deadly as it used to be. That's the point the nation's attorney general, Eduardo Medina Mora, was pushing this week when he cited figures showing that Mexico's overall homicide rate has fallen since the 1990s.