Cartels have been weakened, says Mexican government

Monday, December 27, 2010

Mexico City, Dec 27 (IANS/EFE) The government’s security strategy has succeeded in weakening Mexico’s drug cartels, including the Pacific cartel, whose members accounted for 24 percent of the drug arrests made in the country this year, authorities said.

Record drug seizures and other blows have weakened the criminal organisations, said the Security Cabinet, which is made up of several Cabinet secretaries and the Attorney General’s Office.

“From the start of the current administration until the present date, 24 percent of all those arrested for crimes against the public health (drug trafficking) and linked to a criminal organization were members of the Pacific cartel,” the Security Cabinet said, referring to a gang that critics allege has received preferential treatment from officials.

Mexican officials sometimes refer to the Sinaloa drug cartel, which is led by drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” (Shorty) Guzman, as the Pacific cartel.

The federal government will fight all criminal organisations that threaten Mexico’s security and the health of its citizens, the Security Cabinet said.

The security operation in northeastern Mexico, where the Gulf and Los Zetas cartels have been engaged in a turf war this year, has resulted in a drop in the crime rate, while the operations of the La Familia Michoacana cartel have been reduced in the southern state of Michoacan.

The blows against the Sinaloa cartel “have been equally intense and systematic”, resulting in constant arrests of members that “reduced the capabilities of that criminal organization”, the Security Cabinet said.

Five high-level Sinaloa cartel members - Jesus Reynaldo Zambada, Vicente Zambada Niebla, Eduardo Teodoro Garcia Simental, Manuel Fernandez Valencia and Jose Manuel Garcia Simental - were arrested this year, the government said.

Ignacio “Nacho” Coronel, considered one of the three most powerful drug traffickers in Mexico, was killed in a clash with army troops July 29 in Guadalajara.

The 56-year-old Coronel allegedly ran the Sinaloa organisation’s cocaine trafficking operations in the Pacific coast states of Jalisco, Colima, Nayarit and Michoacan.

The security forces, moreover, arrested 19 cartel members, including Dimas Diaz Ramos, David Garcia and Olga Cristina Lerma, involved in the financial side of the business.

Drug seizures, especially marijuana seizures, affected the operations of the Sinaloa and Beltran Leyva cartels, the Security Cabinet said.

The government plans to continue its all-out assault on Mexico’s cartels despite criticism from different groups, the Security Cabinet said.

Mexico’s most powerful drug trafficking organisations, according to experts, are the Sinaloa, Tijuana, Gulf, Juarez and Beltran Leyva cartels, and La Familia Michoacana.

The Sinaloa organisation is the oldest cartel in Mexico and is led by Guzman, who was arrested in Guatemala in 1993 and pulled off a Hollywood-style jailbreak when he escaped from the Puente Grande maximum-security prison in the western state of Jalisco Jan 19, 2001.

Guzman, considered extremely violent, is one of the most-wanted criminals in Mexico and the US.


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