Tag Archives: San Pedro Sula

Mexico- why is Ciudad Juarez the most dangerous city?

Map showing the Rio Grande drainage basin.
Map showing the Rio Grande drainage basin. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The authorities of the State of Chihuahua and Ciudad Juarez say it is not the world’s most violent city

The authorities of the State of Chihuahua and Ciudad Juarez say it is not the most violent city in the world. That honor now falls to San Pedro Sula, Honduras, or in some areas of Rio or Caracas, who knows. The killings have gone from over 3,000 in 2010 to 2,000 last year and the trend continues downward. A new governor, the presence of federal police in the past year and a half billions of federal government investment and the mobilization of its people have contributed.

However, local journalists attribute the drop in the number of homicides to a very simple reason: the Sinaloa cartel, headed by Joaquin, El Chapo Guzman, has imposed on the remnants of the Juarez cartel, which was founded 20 years ago by Armando Carrillo Fuentes, the Lord of Heaven, named for the air fleet which came to move cocaine to the U.S..

But what happened to the city of tame Indians met by the Spanish Franciscans, the liberals of Benito Juarez, the Apaches of the skirmishes, and raids of Pancho Villa became the turn of the century in the capital world of crime?

Ciudad Juarez is impressive it has a special vibe as the Mexicans say. A vast expanse of flat land urbanized until the eye with buildings that do not exceed two floors. West and north the limit and the border mountains on the south, the desert. On the dusty streets, not always paved and poorly lit, rusting cars without number plates, stunning Suburban or Explorer trucks tinted windows and pickups of police patrols. Do not walk on them handsome and tough like Benicio del Toro and talking softly with his eyes closed, but teens fucking dwarf, poor and probably armed. Actually no walks. Juarez does not invite the stranger nothing, puts to the test.

It is the great backyard of El Paso, Texas, paradoxically, the most peaceful city in the U.S… On this side separates the Rio Grande, because once had floods and floods, and is now a dry moat. On the other, the Rio Grande is green and channeled peers. Three bridges cross the international office, where thousands of vehicles take more than hour and a half to travel to a crawl just 500 meters. In the main, before arriving at the poster you like “Bon Voyage”, a cross on a pink background and a small sign at the bottom that says “No More!” Reminiscent of the more than 1,200 women killed, shot, raped, tortured, beheaded and dismembered in the last 20 years.

City border and femicide, was a woman, Ignacia Jasso, the Nacha, which began in the late twenties of last century smuggling drugs north. Marijuana and heroin flowed naturally to the hearts of the soldiers gringos. La Nacha, with the help of his man, Pablote, a couple of legend, he mastered the business without serious mishaps over 50 years.

Juarez then began to change. In the mid-sixties came the maquilas, the factories of components that dominate half of the territory, today converted into a symbol of labor exploitation. Men and women, especially women, in southern Chihuahua found work in them.

The new and the old smuggling industry filled the pockets of the city, but there was still worse to come.

The signing of the FTA with the U.S. in 1993, born the same year as the Juarez cartel, another paradox was much bigger business. Flashes of this unlikely Eldorado came to southern Mexico. Thousands of women traveled there in search of jobs they had lost in the field. The city received 100,000 new residents a year, the population doubled in a decade to almost a million and a half now, as fast growing real estate speculation. But only awaited the mob, not of course public services. They found a swamp of impunity in which criminals and corrupt police officials imposed by law. There were many weapons, drugs and money. Killing was very easy and almost impossible to be punished for. It was born a Factory of crime as his indispensable book titled journalist Sandra Rodriguez. Homicides increased from year to year from 55 to 120.

Thousands of gang members, i.e., “who at the age of 17,” wrote Magda as Coss Nogueda in Arms trafficking in Mexico, “have already chosen which song they want to be buried”, became killers. Came the Aztecs, the Mexicles, assassins Murderers, named for their origin graffiti, and Line, the group of agents working for the cartel.

And here came Chapo. From 2007 and especially 2008 the Sinaloa cartel began to dispute the Juarez plaza. Murderers for hire were recruited, as armed guards who divided, bribed and threatened his opponents, public officials and infiltrated the police as part of organized crime.

A wave of betrayal and revenge spread through the city, the settling of scores made some months exceeded the 200 murders. The drug war would leave thousands of dead and missing in the streets in mass graves in the desert. Now, that wheel of death begins to stop. The sun begins to set on the big stage of the crime.

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Posted by on 05/11/2012 in Crime!, Mexican Drug Cartels


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Juárez rivals the world for being the most dangerous city

Crosses erected as a monument to victims of th...
Image via Wikipedia

The murder rate in Juárez rivals the most dangerous cities in the world and is more typical of regions where government has collapsed, an expert on homicides said.

The violence continued during the weekend, including a shootout involving the Mexican army that resulted in the arrest of three women and five men suspected in killings, extortion and arsons in the Valley of Juárez.

More than 5,300 people have been slain in the Juárez area since the start of a war between the Sinaloa and Juárez drug cartels in 2008.

There have been at least 15 homicides since Friday and more than 1,100 homicides this year alone in Juárez. By comparison, there has been one homicide in El Paso this year.

Historically, Juárez is not as deadly as Medellin during the peak of the drug cartel bloodshed in that Colombian city in the early 1990s.

At its worst, Medellin had a homicide rate of 250 per 100,000 residents, while Juárez last year had a rate of 191, according to the public safety organization Consejo Ciudadano para la Seguridad Publica y Justicia Penal (Citizen’s Council for Public Security and Penal Justice).

Medellin, which has 1 million more residents than Juárez, is arguably considered the most violent city of the past three decades.

“Juárez deserves the title of most dangerous city in the world not only for its homicide rate but also suffering very high numbers of other violent crimes,” the organization stated in a report last January.

The council reported Juárez last year had higher homicide rates than San Pedro Sula, Honduras, (119 per 100,000); San Salvador, El Salvador (95), and Caracas, Venezuela (94).

A CNN report last April listed Juárez in no particular order among the most dangerous cities in the world, including Karachi, Pakistan; Beirut, Lebanon; and Cape Town, South Africa.

The number of murders in Juárez is more typical of regions during a civil war, a revolution or other form of a state breakdown, said Randolph Roth, a historian who studies homicides.

“Whenever you have a real struggle for power — civil wars, revolutions — organized gangs can get very, very bad like you have in Juárez today,” Roth said. “It’s very rare to see the rates like this in a developed country. It’s very sad.”

Roth is a professor of history and sociology at Ohio State University who created a historical database examining U.S. homicide rates from different time periods and places. He is author of the book “American Homicide.”

Roth said the worst period for homicides in the U.S. was during Reconstruction in the Red River Valley of Louisiana, which had a murder rate of at least 196 per 100,000 per year from 1866 to 1876.

“You had the former Confederates. And the Ku Klux Klan were just in rebellion against the government,” Roth explained. “You didn’t have a central government.”

Mexico and Juárez government officials and El Paso economic development leaders have repeatedly said that authority has not broken down in Juárez despite the bloodshed. Government services continue. Businesses still do business. And the maquiladora industry is humming along.

A report by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime stated that a lot of attention has been placed on Juárez but that high homicides rates can be found along cocaine smuggling corridors in the Americas.

“Less attention has been placed on Central America, where the murder rates are four to five times higher than in Mexico, and where both the economy and the state are far less robust and resilient,” the report stated.

“While the drug violence has been intense in places like Ciudad Juárez, Mexico‘s overall murder rate remains moderate compared too many other countries afflicted by the drug trade.”

The report, “Crime and Instability. Case studies of transnational threats,” was issued in February. It also stated that much of the violence in Central America is not drug related but due to a legacy of social division and decades of civil war.

The Mexican government has deployed thousands of federal police and soldiers to Juárez but the violence has continued and most murders remain unsolved.

Mexican President Felipe Calderón this year also launched the program “Todos Somos Juárez” (We are all Juárez) intended to rebuild the city’s social fabric with education, sports, jobs and culture and other proposals.

Roth said law enforcement can only do so much to stem murders.

Roth advocates an uncommon theory, arguing that high murder rates are not linked to poverty, lack of police or gun control, but rather to trust in government and a sense of belonging.

“People settle their own scores when the state breaks down,” Roth said in a telephone interview from Ohio. “They think there will be no consequences. So, they act like there will be no consequences.”

Roth points to the Great Depression as an example of when homicides dropped while poverty increased because there was a sense of we are all in it together. In communities where there is no sense of kinship, the smallest slight can escalate to violence, he said.

Roth argued there is no correlation, beyond a certain point, between police staffing numbers and murders.

“Strong policing can deter auto theft rings, burglaries and gang violence but it has a hard time with murder because it is so spontaneous. It is so personal and the emotions involved so strong,” he said.

But if trust is the answer, it can be a difficult answer to find in a city like Juárez, infected for decades by corruption.

A public opinion poll last November by the Autonomous University of Ciudad Juárez showed that 97 percent of the population felt unsafe and that 52 percent disapproved of and distrusted all Mexican authorities.

“Ultimately what builds a sense of patriotism and fellowship is feeling a sense of connectiveness with your neighbor (and) that your government does care for your concerns and builds stability,” Roth said.

“It’s easier to revive an economy than build trust. (Government action) has to be seen as effective. It’s deeper (than just the government). It has to come from the people itself.”

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Posted by on 03/01/2012 in Crime!, Politics


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New cocaine capital, Honduras!

the drug trail!

the drug trail!Image via Wikipedia

On Honduras’ swampy Mosquitia coast, entire villages have made a way of life off the country’s massive cocaine transshipment trade. In broad daylight, men, women and children descend on passing go-fast boats to offload bales of cocaine destined for the United States.

Along the Atlantic coast, the wealthy elite have accumulated dozens of ranches, yachts and mansions from the drug trade.

And in San Pedro Sula, local gangs moving drugs north have spawned armies of street-level dealers whose violence has given the rougher neighborhoods of the northern industrial city a homicide rate that is only comparable to Kabul, Afghanistan.

Long an impoverished backwater in Central America, Honduras has become a main transit route for South American cocaine.

“Honduras is the number one offload point for traffickers to take cocaine through Mexico to the U.S.,” said a U.S. law enforcement official who could not be quoted by name for security reasons. A U.S. State Department report released in March called Honduras “one of the primary landing points for South American cocaine.”

Almost half of the cocaine that reaches the United States is now offloaded somewhere along the country’s coast and heavily forested interior – a total of 20 to 25 tons each month, according to U.S. and Honduran estimates.

Authorities intercept perhaps 5 percent of that, according to calculations by The Associated Press based on official estimates of flow and seizures.

The flow is hard to stem, said Alfredo Landaverde, a former adviser to the Honduran security ministry, because there are few other sources of cash income here.

“We have to recognize that this society is very vulnerable,” Landaverde said. “This is a country permeated by corruption, among police commanders, businessmen, politicians.”

The country’s isolated, impoverished Atlantic coast, remote ranches and largely unguarded border with Guatemala – where much of the cocaine is taken – also make it a haven for traffickers.

“When the traffickers are unloading a go-fast boat in (the Atlantic coast province of) Gracias a Dios, you can sometimes see 70 to 100 people of all ages out there helping unload it,” said the U.S. law enforcement official. “The traffickers look for support among local populations.”

In the past year, authorities seized 12 tons of cocaine, according to the Honduran government – a vast improvement from previous years, but still a small portion of the estimated 250 to 300 tons that come through annually.

Most of the cocaine arrives in Honduras via the sea, in speedboats, fishing vessels and even submersibles. In July, the U.S. Coast Guard, with Honduras’ help, detained one such craft that had been plying the waters with about 5 tons of cocaine per trip.

Fishermen who once worked catching lobster now look instead for a much more prized catch, the so-called “white lobster” – bales of cocaine jettisoned by drug traffickers to either escape detection or to be picked up by another boat.

Honduras is also by far the region’s biggest center for airborne smuggling. Of the hundreds of illicit flights northward out of South America, 79 percent land in Honduras, said the U.S. official. Ninety-five percent of those flights hail from Venezuela, which also has become a link for cocaine produced elsewhere.

Landing aircraft in Honduras was once so profitable and planes so easy to get that traffickers would sometimes simply offload the drugs and burn the aircraft, rather than take off again from dangerously rudimentary clandestine landing strips.

Last year, however, they started reusing the planes to ferry loads of bulk cash back to Colombia, the U.S. State Department report said. Authorities found one load of $9 million in U.S. cash stuffed in plastic bags in the trunk of a car, and millions at a time in suitcases at local airports.

Earlier this year, as aircraft became more difficult to obtain, traffickers stole a military plane from the San Pedro Sula army base on the Atlantic coast, said Landaverde, adding that soldiers were accomplices to the theft.

“The plane is left outside,” he said. “Some guys turn it on and take off. Nobody leaves a plane like that, ready to fly.” In fact, one of the soldiers involved in that incident was later arrested in September with other ex-soldiers as they allegedly waited to meet a drug flight on the country’s Atlantic coast.

It is not just poverty-stricken fishermen and corrupt soldiers who are the beneficiaries of the emergent cocaine republic. Last week, authorities seized 13 luxurious homes and ranches and 17 boats in the first such mass raid since the country enacted a drug-properties seizure law in 2010. All were owned by local people.

Key members of the region’s business community who have hotel, real estate and retail holdings have been named as associates of the cartels, often for money laundering. Nor are the drug trade’s ripple effects restricted to the coast.

Copan, a Guatemalan border province popular with tourists because of its Mayan ruins, is a lawless area dominated by business interests tied to the drug trade, said a radio station owner who asked not to be quoted by name for security reasons.

“These people move without shame in politics and the business world,” the station owner said. “They are involved in large-scale businesses in tourism. This region has been separated from the nation’s territory. It is their lair.”

At the other end of the economic spectrum are local street gangs, who are often paid in drugs as well as cash to move drugs north. Their ranks are growing and competition among them has pushed up the country’s escalating homicide rate to one of the highest in the world.

The country of 7.7 million people saw 6,200 killings in 2010. That’s the equivalent of 82.1 homicides per 100,000 people – well above the 66 per 100,000 in neighboring El Salvador.

Others are becoming players in the bulk trade, the U.S. official said, remarking that, “Lately, we’ve seen some gangs that will purchase the cocaine and resell it.”

The high volume of drugs coupled with the alarming homicide rate is tough to address in a nation where many police and army officers are working with drug gangs.

Corrupt law enforcement officials had a fierce foe in the person of former Honduran Security Minister Oscar Alvarez, who was fired by President Porfirio Lobo in September after proposing a law to purge the police force of corrupt cops.

Alvarez had said publicly that some corrupt police essentially act as air traffic controllers for the drug flights. When a suspected drug flight was detected in August, Alvarez was quoted by a local newspaper as saying that two police officials not assigned to the district were in the area – their cellphone signals were traced to the control tower where the plane landed.

Alvarez claimed he was fired because of his campaign to clean up the police force, saying, “It was easier to get rid of a minister than to get rid of a corrupt cop.”

But his replacement, Pompeyo Bonilla, said that given Honduras’ highly protective labor laws, a mass firing of police officers probably would have been quickly followed by the reinstatement of many.

He also claimed that Alvarez overstepped his authority by sending his proposed police cleanup law to congress without even telling Lobo.

“The president heard about it on television,” Bonilla said.

Alvarez, who left for the United States soon after his dismissal, was not available for an interview, according to an unidentified woman who answered his U.S. cellphone number.

U.S. Ambassador Lisa Kubiske said she expects to work well with Bonilla. “President Lobo’s administration is totally serious about fighting the cartels,” Kubiske said. “When you talk to them, counternarcotics is almost the first word out of their mouths.”

Alvarez was accustomed to dropping bombshells, including the claim that fugitive Mexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman had visited Honduras’ border region next to Guatemala.

In March, police under Alvarez’s command raided a remote mountain lab in northeastern Honduras. Alvarez said the lab processed cocaine from the paste of partly processed coca leaves, the first time that would have been done outside South America and an ominous development for Honduras. The lab, however, had apparently not yet been put to use.

Bonilla said the lab was a small one, quickly dismantled, and no other such lab has been discovered in Honduras. “We are rather more a transit route” than a producer or processor, Bonilla said.

Some doubt the lab was intended to process coca paste; it may have been simply dedicated to cutting and repackaging imported cocaine, which is usually cut many times before it reaches the street.

“We haven’t seen any evidence of cocaine processing taking place in Honduras so far,” the U.S. official said, adding, “Twelve thousand kilos of cocaine were seized in Honduras this year, and we haven’t seen a single ounce of cocaine paste.”

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Posted by on 10/31/2011 in Crime!, Drugs, Mexican Drug Cartels


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