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Sunday, 9 March 2008

Canadian Tourists murdered in Cancun Gangland

Cancun is more dangerous to Canadians than Israeli or Lebanese beach resorts. But we have a warning for the latter. Cancun and Acapulco are the centers of the drug cartel wars, which have taken more Canadian lives than the Israeli/Lebanon war.
Toews is the latest case of a number of Canadians injured or killed while vacationing in Mexico: Domenic and Nancy Ianiero, of Woodbridge, Ont., were staying at the luxury Barcelo Maya beach resort near Cancun when they were found with their throats slashed on Feb. 20, 2006. The murder remains unsolved. Another Woodbridge resident, 19-year-old Adam DePrisco, was killed outside an Acapulco nightclub last January. Local authorities said he was the victim of a hit-and-run, but relatives say the teenager was beaten to death. In February, Rita Callara, 55, and a Canadian man, both from the Niagara Falls region, were each shot in the leg after a gunman fired a semi-automatic weapon at the Casa Inn hotel in Acapulco.The same weekend the Canadian tourist was attacked this happened; Gunmen attack police chief in Cancun beach resort Coincidence? I think not.

While not apparently connected to the death of the Canadian tourist, it reflects the dangers of the drug wars occurring under the surface in the land of umbrella drinks, sun and surf.In the real city of Cancun — rather than the “Hotel Zone” — the chief of police was ambushed with his entourage. His bodyguard was killed and others wounded. He survived.Some sources estimate 900 people have been murdered since the beginning of the year in Mexico in drug-war violence but that is not confirmed. The AP reported that figure from the Mexico City magazine, Milenio. The government does not confirm any figure.This current cartel war is being waged not only for control of the smuggling plazas into the United States, such as Nuevo Laredo, Mexicali and Tijuana, but also for the locations used for Mexico’s incoming drug shipments, in places such as Acapulco, Cancun and Michoacan, and for control of critical points on transshipment routes through the center of the country, such as Hermosillo.While there has always been some level of violence between the Mexican cartels, the current war has resulted in a notable escalation in the level of brutality. One significant cause of this uptick is the change in the composition of the cartels’ enforcement arms. Historically, cartel leaders performed much of their own dirty work, and figures such as Cardenas and Ramon Arellano Felix were recognized for the number of rivals they killed on their rise to the top of their respective organizations. In the recent past, however, the cartels have begun to contract out the enforcement functions to highly trained outsiders. For example, when cartels such as the Tijuana organization began to use active or retired police officers against their enemies, their rivals were forced to find enforcers capable of countering this strength. As a result, the Gulf cartel hired Los Zetas, a group of elite anti-drug paratroopers and intelligence operatives who deserted their federal Special Air Mobile Force Group in 1991. The Sinaloa cartel, meanwhile, formed a similar armed force called Los Pelones, literally meaning “the bald ones” but typically understood to mean “new soldiers” for the shaved heads normally sported by military recruits. Although the cartels had long outgunned Mexican police, these highly trained and aggressive enforcers upped the ante even further, introducing military-style tactics and even more advanced weapons.
The life of a Mexican drug cartel enforcer can be exciting, brutal — and short. Los Zetas and Los Pelones are constantly attacking one another and some members of the groups even have posted videos on the Internet of them torturing and executing their rivals. Beheading rival enforcers also has become common. The current cartel war has proven to be a long and arduous struggle, and there has been heavy attrition among both organizations. Because of this attrition, the cartels have recently begun to bring fresh muscle to the fight. Los Zetas have formed relationships with former members of the Guatemalan special forces known as Kaibiles, and with members of the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) street gang.
It is this environment of extreme and often gratuitous violence — killings, beheadings and rocket-propelled grenade attacks — that has sparked Calderon’s actions against the Gulf cartel. Why he is focusing specifically on the Gulf cartel is unclear, though it is possible the government has better intelligence on it than on the others. Or perhaps it is because the Gulf cartel has a more centralized command structure than does Sinaloa, which is a federation of several smaller cartels. Of course, the Gulf cartel itself has argued that the Calderon administration is on the Sinaloa payroll and is being used by Sinaloa to destroy its rival. Another possible reason is that taking out Los Zetas — who have become emblematic of extreme cartel violence — would be a major accomplishment for the new president.


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