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Wednesday, 16 April 2008

Joaquin Guzman, known as El Chapo, and Ismael Zambada Turf war among drug Gangs claimed more than 210 lives in the first three months of this year.

Turf war among drug Gangs has claimed more than 210 lives in the first three months of this year. Many of those killed were young gunmen from out of town. The number of homicides this year is more than twice the total number of homicides for the same period last year. Several mass graves hiding 36 bodies in all have been discovered in the backyards of two houses owned by drug dealers.At the height of the violence, around Easter, bodies were turning up every morning, at a rate of almost 12 a week.
Desperate, the mayor and the governor of Chihuahua State asked the federal government to intervene."Neither the municipal government, nor the state government, is capable of taking on organized crime," Mayor Jose Reyes Ferriz said in an interview.So in late March, President Felipe Calderon sent in 2,026 soldiers and 425 federal agents. They continue to patrol in convoys of Humvees and pickup trucks. But even they are intimidated. None dare show their faces, wearing ski masks instead.
"The mortuary is full of more than 50 unclaimed and unidentified bodies, proof that the soldiers in the underworld war come from other states, the mayor said.
Information about who is fighting whom is hard to come by.

The local police chief, Guillermo Prieto Quintana, professed ignorance of the conflict, despite having been an officer here for 30 years. He acknowledged that the 1,600-member force was riddled with corrupt officers, a consequence, he said, of low pay and a lack of opportunity for advancement that led them to seek other sources of money. "As long as freelancing exists, this corruption is going to exist," he said.Since the late 1980s, drug smuggling in Ciudad Juarez has been controlled by a group known as the Juarez Cartel, led by Vincente Carrillo Fuentes since the death of his brother Amado in 1997.The recent violence ripping apart Ciudad Juarez stems from a gang war between former allies. On one side is the Carrillo Fuentes family and its point man here, Jose Luis Ledezma, known as J.L. On the other, are several traffickers based in Sinaloa State, chief among them Joaquin Guzman, known as El Chapo, and Ismael Zambada, known as El Mayo, said a federal prosecutor, who, like some others interviewed, spoke on condition of anonymity for security reasons. Their uneasy alliance has been strained since one of the Carrillo Fuentes brothers, Rodolfo, was assassinated in September 2004, officials say. Guzman is widely believed to have been behind the killing.

One theory holds that the tension reached a breaking point in December when Zambada refused to pay the Juarez Cartel a tax for smuggling drugs through its area.Since then, Zambada and Guzman have begun an offensive against the Juarez Cartel, and Ledezma, the local crime boss, has fought back fiercely, prosecutors and city officials said. "Mayo and Chapo's people wanted to invade, and J.L. was not going to let them, and so the battles started," the prosecutor said.But a Mexican intelligence officer, also speaking on the condition of anonymity, said that since the assassination of Rodolfo Carrillo Fuentes, the Juarez Cartel has forged an alliance with the Gulf Cartel, led by the incarcerated kingpin Osiel Cardenas Guillen and his lieutenants in Tamaulipas State, across the border from south Texas.Over the last year, arrests and pressure from federal troops have weakened the Gulf Cartel. Sensing an opportunity, Zambada, Guzman and other Sinoloa drug traffickers who had fallen out with the Carrillo Fuentes clan have tried to take over the town, the official said."What you have is one cartel that is leaving an open space, and it's a takeover attempt by another," the intelligence official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity.John Riley, the special agent in charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration office in El Paso, said the fighting in Ciudad Juarez stemmed from the same battle for territory among various Sinaloa traffickers, the old Carrillo Fuentes family and the Gulf Cartel that has shaken the entire country over the last two years, costing thousands of lives.
He added the alliances among various factions shifted constantly, creating a chaotic situation for law enforcement. "A lot of these lines have been blurred since the first of the year," he said. "It's extremely confusing."City officials said that before the recent gangland war, Ledezma had tried to establish himself as a gangster in the American tradition, controlling extortion rackets, prostitution and gambling, as well as the cocaine traffic.
Officials say he has also recruited local street gangs like Los Aztecas as gunmen and drug distributors. The Gulf Cartel has brought in a corps of hired hit men, known as the Zetas.Federal prosecutors and city officials say that Ledezma has also infiltrated the local police department to an alarming degree. Most of the officers killed in the recent violence had links to drug dealers, prosecutors said.
For residents, the federal police and military patrols have brought a brief respite from the state of terror they have been living under. But in interviews, several said they remain afraid to leave their homes at night or to let their children play outside as they did when they were young. Gunfire was a common sound after sunset, they said."Before, there was not much pressure on those who sell drugs, but with the army, things are changing," Janeth Ponce, 21, a homemaker, said as she sat in the sun last Saturday in the central square. "Now one doesn't feel so much fear, because there is more policing."But other residents said the federal intervention was only a temporary fix. The local police are outgunned, underpaid, prone to corruption and lack the authority to investigate drug dealers, they noted.
It has escaped no one's attention that the federal authorities arrested nine city police officers in late March on charges of drug dealing, and the former police commissioner, Saulo Reyes, was arrested in El Paso in January, on charges of marijuana trafficking.
"The police were doing nothing," said Janet Morales Castellanos, who was tending her father's herbal store in the market last Saturday. "One can't walk around here at night. I can't take her to the parks at night or even to the movies," she said, referring to her toddler daughter. "One stays at home."
The mayor and the police commissioner, who took office last October, agree that the only long-term solution is to clean up the police department and to give police officers the legal power to investigate drug trafficking, which only federal officers have now.To that end, they have toughened standards for recruits and are beginning to use a battery of tests to weed out drug addicts and others prone to corruption. They have bought 100 patrol cars and have permitted the officers to carry semiautomatic sidearms and machine guns, instead of service revolvers.
However, the force has changed little. Only about 30 officers have resigned or retired in the wake of federal arrests and the new tests. The first batch of 150 new recruits came out of the academy in January, but they entered a force where most officers either feared drug dealers too much to move against them or lived on their payroll.
"A municipal policeman knows everything but cannot act," said Jaime Torres, the spokesman for the department.

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This type of problem and conflict has been happening in Mexico for years and years but has gone unnoticed; sadly but true now it's too late to try to fix. There is not way the Mexican Government would agree to rid itself of a multibillion dollar industry. To gain some type of control over it while still profiting from it themselves is another thing that is alot easier to believe. It's a business where there is a lot of money to be made and "money" itself is what makes the world go round. I find it sad to think that barely now the Mexican government wants to try to do something about all the killings, shootings and the safety of it's citizens. Ask yourself something, "Why is it so out of control, and out of the goverments reach?" Maybe because they aren't the one's in control, they never have been. The only thing they've ever done is sit back, turn the other way and receive their part of the profit.

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