September 17, 2009 |
As a high-ranking U.S. anti-drug official, Richard Padilla Cramer held front-line posts in the war on Mexico's murderous cartels. He led an office of two dozen agents in Arizona and was the attache for Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Guadalajara. While in Mexico, however, Cramer also served as a secret ally of drug lords, according to federal investigators. Cramer allegedly advised traffickers on law enforcement tactics and pulled secret files to help them identify turncoats.
May 16, 2010 |
With its superhighways, gleaming skyscrapers, fancy art museums and leafy plazas, Monterrey has always been safe — so safe, in fact, that drug lords chose to park their families here. Life in Monterrey represented another Mexico, cozily above the national fray of violence and disintegration. No scruffy border city or remote, drug-infested outpost, Monterrey is Mexico's wealthiest city, its economic engine, the center of textile, food-processing, beer and construction industries — a modern, sophisticated metropolis where per-capita GDP is twice the national average.
August 17, 2001 |
Angela Slobodchuk, 25, has a story to tell. She offers it in a low monotone, in a near-whisper, to anyone who listens. It begins in her poor farming village in the former Soviet republic of Moldova with the promise of a job as a waitress in Italy. It takes her on an odyssey of torment through Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania, Yugoslavia and Albania. She is raped, beaten, forced into prostitution, smuggled across borders and sold 18 times from one pimp to the next.
April 17, 2010 |
Leaders of countries in the eastern Caribbean told Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates on Friday that the international anti-drug crackdown in Mexico has forced traffickers into the waters around their islands, adding to the region's crime and security woes. To stem the increase, Caribbean nations are seeking expanded security assistance from the United States, particularly for combating drug trafficking, and leaders said they would like to see a greater American focus on the region.
December 7, 2010 |
President Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua has received "suitcases full of cash" from Venezuela and is believed to have used money from drug traffickers to finance electoral fraud, according to secret U.S. diplomatic cables disclosed this week. Ortega's fawning and lucrative relationship with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez prompted a U.S. diplomat to dub Ortega a "Chavez 'Mini-Me,'" a reference to a diminutive movie character, the cables say. In the latest leak from the cache of U.S. diplomatic communications released by the WikiLeaks website, officials paint a harsh picture of Ortega, a long-time foe of Washington, his politics and the secretive, abusive way he runs his government.
March 16, 2010 |
The danger signs had been mounting. The U.S. Consulate in Ciudad Juarez recently shut down for a bomb threat (which proved false). Federal police guards were redoubled. Officials working at the diplomatic mission saw their movements being gradually restricted, some parts of the city deemed too dicey to frequent. But the Americans leaving a weekend child's birthday party probably made the same calculations that many people living in Mexico make. It was broad daylight. We'll be traveling on major roads.
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.
November 6, 2010 |
It starts at the airport. A burly guy in a hoodie drapes himself over the barrier that leads out of the parking lot. Watching. Just watching. Most taxi drivers are on the drug cartels' payroll, ordered to spy on visitors and monitor the movements of the military and state investigators. Their license plates brazenly shed, they cruise streets dotted with paper-flower shrines marking the dead. Watching. In the main downtown plaza, in front of City Hall and the cathedral, about a dozen guys in baggy pants with sunglasses on their heads hang out alongside the shoeshine men. They eye passersby, without speaking.
December 29, 2010 |
Four years and 50,000 troops into President Felipe Calderon's drug war, the fighting has exposed severe limitations in the Mexican army's ability to wage unconventional warfare, tarnished its proud reputation and left the U.S. pointedly criticizing the force as "virtually blind" on the ground. The army's shortcomings have complicated the government's struggle against the narcotics cartels, as the deadliest year of the war by far comes to a close. Though long employed to destroy marijuana and poppy fields in the countryside, the army hadn't been trained for the type of operations needed to fight groups trafficking cocaine through border cities.