Global News Journal
Beyond the World news headlines
Mexican drug baron Tony Tormenta died in a hail of grenades and gunfire on Nov.5 on the U.S. border, a victory for U.S.-Mexico efforts to clamp down on the illegal narcotics trade. Or did he?
Five days after the Gulf cartel leader’s death at the hands of Mexican marines in Matamoros, no photographs of his body have surfaced. At the navy’s only news conference, there was never any clarification about the whereabouts of his body. Mexico’s attorney general’s office did say on Wednesday that his body was handed over to his wife and daughter on Tuesday. The navy has declined to comment.
It was a similar story with the death of top Sinaloa cartel trafficker Ignacio “Nacho” Coronel in July. The only photograph of the body was leaked to a magazine days after his killing by the Mexican army in western Jalisco state.
In a country where few Mexicans believe in their government, President Felipe Calderon is asking people to take his word that these powerful, billionaire drug lords have, in fact, died.
The people of Ciudad Juarez are starting to lose all hope. When gunmen burst into a birthday party on Friday and killed 14 people, the horrific act should have at least shocked Mexican authorities into action. But even the sight of blood running out of a suburban patio, the broken chairs and the party-goers’ bodies slumped on the concrete have become all too familiar in the desert city across from El Paso, Texas.
It was at the start of 2010 that another, gruesomely similar shooting was warning enough that the city was spiraling toward criminal anarchy.
The black smoke could be seen across Tijuana as Mexico’s biggest-ever marijuana haul went up in flames.
The equivalent of more than 250 million joints were soaked in gasoline and set on fire, with the smell of the drug soon overpowering the acrid smell of the fuel.
The thousands of flickering candles run on and on along Monterrey’s main pedestrian thoroughfare, a spontaneous tribute to a 21-year-old university arts student shot dead by a drug hitmen who was chasing after an off-duty prison guard last week.
Even as busy shoppers bustle past, people are coming to Plaza Morelos to place the candles one after the other in the downtown of Mexico’s wealthy northern city in a rare public showing of anger, sadness and frustration at Lucila Quintanilla’s death and the spiraling drug violence across the city.
It is difficult to imagine things getting much worse in Ciudad Juarez, the manufacturing city across from El Paso that has become one of the world’s most dangerous places. Extortions, beheadings, bombs in cars, daylight shootouts and kidnappings are all daily fare in the border town once better known as a NAFTA powerhouse and party zone for fun seeking Americans. Even the Mexican army stands accused of abusing the trust citizens once placed in it, carrying out possibly hundreds of wrongful arrests and illegal house raids.
Things are so bad that business leaders are calling for a state of emergency to be called in the city on the Rio Grande with nighttime curfews in a bid to control the violence. Around 10,000 businesses have closed in Ciudad Juarez over the past two years. A military-enforced curfew doesn’t resound much with residents who want the thousands of troops sent in by President Felipe Calderon to leave town for good. More than 6,700 people have died in drug killings since the army arrived in early 2008 and locals say the army-led crackdown on gangs has only provoked more violence across the city and its surrounding Chihuahua state. (Click here for full Mexico drug war coverage)
By Julian CardonaCiudad Juarez, a Mexican town on the U.S. border where daylight murders and beheaded bodies have become the norm, could be the world’s most violent city.
With 130 murders for every 100,000 residents per year on average last year, the city of 1.6 million people is more violent than the Venezuelan capital Caracas, the U.S. city of New Orleans and Colombia’s Medellin. That is according to a study by the Mexican non-profit Citizen Council for Public Security and Justice, which presented its report to Mexico’s security minister at a conference this week.
The fight between rival drug cartels over Ciudad Juarez’s local drug market and smuggling routes into the United States broke out at the start of last year and continues to intensify.Reliable global crime statistics are hard to pin down and a study last year by Foreign Policy Magazine placed Caracas as the world’s top murder capital, also with 130 murders per 100,000 residents. (The Mexican study disputes that and puts the Caracas figure at 96).But Ciudad Juarez’s rising murder rate, currently at about 250 per month, appears to put it well ahead of other notorious world crime capitals such as South Africa’s Cape Town, Moscow, Baghdad, and Papua New Guinea’s capital Port Moresby, according to the Mexican and Foreign Policy studies.In fact, in Ciudad Juarez during the first day of the conference where the Mexican study was presented, eight people were murdered in the city’s streets, including a prosecutor, a lawyer, two policewomen, a clown performer and a gardener.Ciudad Juarez, a manufacturing city across from El Paso, Texas, already has a stained history with the unsolved murders of hundreds of young women in the 1990s.Perhaps most worryingly is not that 10,000 troops and elite police stationed there have failed to stop the drug violence, but that local officials say they have everything under control.Ciudad Juarez Mayor Jose Reyes Ferriz says the city’s fight against drug violence is “a successful process that the world can learn from.” Chihuahua state Governor Jose Reyes Baez, who has long bemoaned the media focus on drug violence in Ciudad Juarez, says that troops can gradually leave as newly-trained police take over. The army denies any scaling back in its deployment.
Gunmen shot and killed U.S. Border Patrol agent Robert Rosas in California near the U.S.-Mexico border fence on July 23, the first such fatal shooting in more than a decade. In rugged desert where people smugglers and drug traffickers roam, Rosas was tracking a suspicious group of people near the rural town of Campo, about 60 miles (97 kms) east of San Diego.
After radioing for backup, he got out of his vehicle and started to follow members of the group as it split up. He was attacked, robbed of his weapon and shot several times in the head and abdomen.
Drug violence in Mexico is intensifying even by traffickers’ barbaric standards.
In recent days, heavily armed hitmen launched coordinated attacks on federal police stations in western Mexico and dumped the semi-naked, bloodied bodies of 12 federal agents by a mountain highway, killed two U.S. Mormons in their Mexican community and killed a mayor in a northern ranching town.
from Photographers' Blog:
The first version of the killings came from Mexico City media. “Massacre in Tamaulipas State,” said the news anchorman. Seventy-two corpses had been discovered on a ranch in San Fernando municipality, all showing signs of a mass execution.
News of executions, macabre assassinations and kidnappings are commonplace in northern Mexico, but this headline was not. With journalists’ reflexes we began to plan a trip to what suddenly became the bloodiest theater in the drug war. In the past two months a candidate for governor was gunned down, two mayors assassinated, grenades exploded on city streets and the cousin of a media mogul kidnapped. In one weekend 51 people had been murdered in infamous Ciudad Juarez.