Posts Tagged ‘Mexican violence’

At least one Mexican gunman fired a high-powered rifle across the border at four U.S. road workers Thursday in an isolated ghost town east of Fort Hancock, Hudspeth County sheriff’s officials said.

The bullets did not injure the four men.

Mike Doyle, chief deputy of the Hudspeth County Sheriff’s Office, said a rancher spotted a white pickup fleeing the area on the Mexican side at 10:30 a.m. — the time the shots were fired.

The bullets stuck private land along the unpaved Indian Hot Springs Road, which is about half a mile from the border fence. Hudspeth County borrowed the land to store gravel and rocks used for road construction. The workers were filling a hole left last year by rainstorm damage.

The ghost town of Fort Quitman is 25 miles east of Fort Hancock and 80 miles southeast of El Paso. Fewer than a dozen ranchers raise cattle in the remote area.

Doyle said the gunman might have shot at the road workers to distract them or get them to flee.

“Maybe they were trying to get them outside this area,” he said.

Doyle said the sheriff and the Texas Rangers at this point are assuming the bullets were fired from Mexico. He said one of the county workers said he heard eight shots that “sounded like high-powered rifles.”

On the Mexican side, the nearest community is Banderas, but there are roads that connect to Ojinaga, right across from Presidio, and also to Juárez.

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The embattled border city of Ciudad Juarez had its bloodiest year ever with 3,111 people killed in drug violence, an official said Saturday.

The city across from El Paso, Texas, has seen its homicide rate soar to one of the highest in the world since vicious turf battles broke out between gangs representing the Juarez and Sinaloa cartels in 2008.

That year, 1,587 people were killed in drug violence, and the toll increased to 2,643 in 2009.

Ciudad Juarez’s bloodiest month last year was October, when 359 people were killed, said Arturo Sandoval, a spokesman for prosecutors in Chihuahua state, where the city is located.

Sandoval did not give statistics on murders unrelated to the drug war.

More than 30,000 people have been killed in drug violence nationwide since President Felipe Calderon launched an offensive against the cartels after taking office in December 2006.

In the southern state of Guerrero, four members of a family were killed Saturday when gunmen opened fire at a New Year’s celebration in the town of Piedra Iman.

State investigators said the four men, ages 80, 60, 32 and 17, were slain at a party on a basketball court.

Joseph Proctor told his girlfriend he was popping out to the convenience store in the quiet Mexican beach town where the couple had just moved, intending to start a new life.

The next morning, the 32-year-old New York native was dead inside his crashed van on a road outside Acapulco. He had multiple bullet wounds. An AR-15 rifle lay in his hands.

His distraught girlfriend, Liliana Gil Vargas, was summoned to police headquarters, where she was told Proctor had died in a gunbattle with an army patrol. They claimed Proctor — whose green van had a for-sale sign and his cell phone number spray-painted on the windows — had attacked the troops. They showed her the gun.

His mother, Donna Proctor, devastated and incredulous, has been fighting through Mexico’s secretive military justice system ever since to learn what really happened on the night of Aug. 22.

It took weeks of pressuring U.S. diplomats and congressmen for help, but she finally got an answer, which she shared with The Associated Press.

Three soldiers have been charged with killing her son. Two have been charged with planting the assault rifle in his hands and claiming falsely that he fired first, according to a Mexican Defense Department document sent to her through the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City.

It is at least the third case this year in which soldiers, locked in a brutal battle with drug cartels, have been accused of killing innocent civilians and faking evidence in cover-ups.

Such scandals are driving calls for civilian investigators to take over cases that are almost exclusively handled by military prosecutors and judges who rarely convict one of their own.

“I hate the fact that he died alone and in pain an in such an unjust way,” Donna Proctor, a Queens court bailiff, said in a telephone interview with the AP. “I want him to be remembered as a hardworking person. He would never pick up a gun and shoot someone.”

President Felipe Calderon has proposed a bill that would require civilian investigations in all torture, disappearance and rape cases against the military. But other abuses, including homicides committed by on-duty soldiers, would mostly remain under military jurisdiction. That would include the Proctor case and two others this year in which soldiers were accused of even more elaborate cover-ups.

The first involved two university students killed in March during a gunbattle between soldiers and cartel suspects that spilled into their campus in the northern city of Monterrey. Mexico’s National Human Rights Commission said soldiers destroyed surveillance cameras, planted guns on the two young men and took away their backpacks in an attempt to claim they were gang members. The military admitted the two were students after university officials spoke out.

In that case, military and civilian federal prosecutors are conducting a joint investigation into the killings. The military, however, is in charge of the investigation into the allegation of crime-scene tampering.

In the second case, two brothers aged 5 and 9 were killed in April in their family’s car in the northern state of Tamaulipas. The rights commission said in a report that there was no gunbattle and that soldiers fired additional rounds into the family car and planted two vehicles at the scene to make it look like a crossfire incident. The Defense Department stands by its explanation and denies there was a cover-up.

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The end of the year means a turnover of House control from Democratic to Republican and, with it, Congress’ approach to immigration.

In a matter of weeks, Congress will go from trying to help young, illegal immigrants become legal to debating whether children born to parents who are in the country illegally should continue to enjoy automatic U.S. citizenship.

Such a hardened approach — and the rhetoric certain to accompany it — should resonate with the GOP faithful who helped swing the House in Republicans’ favor. But it also could further hurt the GOP in its endeavor to grab a large enough share of the growing Latino vote to win the White House and the Senate majority in 2012.

Legislation to test interpretations of the 14th Amendment as granting citizenship to the children of illegal immigrants will emerge early next session. That is likely to be followed by attempts to force employers to use a still-developing web system, dubbed E-Verify, to check that all of their employees are in the U.S. legally.

There could be proposed curbs on federal spending in cities that don’t do enough to identify people who are in the country illegally and attempts to reduce the numbers of legal immigrants.

Democrats ended the year failing for a second time to win passage of the Dream Act, which would have given hundreds of thousands of young illegal immigrants a chance at legal status. House Republicans will try to fill the immigration reform vacuum left by Democrats with legislation designed to send illegal immigrants packing and deter others from trying to come to the U.S.

Democrats, who will still control the Senate, will be playing defense against harsh immigration enforcement measures, mindful of their need to keep on good footing with Hispanic voters. But a slimmer majority and an eye on 2012 may prevent Senate Democrats from bringing to the floor any sweeping immigration bill, or even a limited one that hints at providing legal status to people in the country illegally.

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A peace march called by local authorities in western Mexico turned into a show of support for a slain drug lord Sunday, with adults and children carrying signs lauding the capo known for handing out Bibles to the poor.

Hundreds of people turned out for the march in Apatzingan, the birth place of La Familia cartel leader Nazario Moreno, who was known as “The Craziest One” and reputedly indoctrinated his gang members in pseudo-Christian ideology.

The government says Moreno was killed in Apatzingan on Thursday in a shootout with federal police. The hunt for Moreno and other La Familia leaders set off two days of battles in key parts of Michoacan state, with cartel gunmen using torched cars and buses to blockade highways. At least 11 other people were killed, including a baby and a teenage girl.

The Apatzingan government convoked the march to call for peace and demand that federal troops and police leave the city. But local officials quickly distanced themselves from the event after people showed up with the pro-Moreno signs.

One man held up a sign that said: “Nazario will always live in our hearts.” A boy in a checkered shirt held another saying “Mr. Nazario, for students your ideals live on.” A little girl in pigtails held a sign reading “La Familia Michoacana is more than one state.” A woman held one high over her head proclaiming: “Long live La Familia Michoacana.”

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University students across Texas this week joined San Antonio students in a hunger strike aimed at pressuring U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison to vote for the DREAM Act, a bill that would provide a path to citizenship for students and soldiers brought to the country illegally as children.

Started two weeks ago by a dozen students at the University of Texas at San Antonio, the hunger strike spread this week to UT campuses in Austin, Dallas, Arlington, Brownsville and Edinburg, as well as the University of North Texas in Denton, according to members of DREAM Act NOW!, the UTSA student group that organized the strike.

The group is part of a national coalition called United We DREAM, which brings together activists in each state. Universities in Florida and Indiana have also begun striking in solidarity, members said.

“Now that they have seen we are still going and not planning to stop, some have joined us,” said Claudia Sanchez, one of the UTSA strikers. Sanchez, 29, is a U.S. citizen, but many of her fellow strikers are in the country illegally.

Hutchison met with a DREAM Act activist in Washington last week in hopes the meeting would end the hunger strike, according to a spokeswoman. Sanchez said San Antonio strikers want a face-to-face meeting with Hutchison when she comes home to Texas for the holidays.

“We want to start talking about the specifics of the DREAM Act so she can tell us exactly what she doesn’t agree with,” Sanchez said. “We are giving her until Thanksgiving. If not, we are going to start stepping up our campaign. We will put more pressure on her.”

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Gunmen stormed two homes and massacred 13 young partygoers in the latest large-scale attack in this violent border city, even as a new government strategy seeks to restore order with social programs and massive police deployments.

Attackers in two vehicles pulled up to the houses in a lower-middle-class neighborhood late Friday and opened fire on about three dozen youths attending a party. The dead identified so far were 16 to 25 years old, the Chihuahua state attorney general’s office said Saturday in a statement. Fifteen were wounded, including a 9-year-old boy.

Police found 70 bullet casings from assault weapons typically used by drug gangs whose bloody turf battles have killed more than 2,000 people this year in Ciudad Juarez, across the border from El Paso, Texas.

The attackers escaped, and police said they had no immediate information on any suspects or possible motive.

Ciudad Juarez has become one of the world’s deadliest cities amid a turf war between the Sinaloa and Juarez cartels, which frequently go after each other in mass attacks on bars, drug rehab centers and parties.

Some have resulted in apparently innocent people being killed, either because someone else at a gathering was the target or gunmen simply had the wrong address.

Most recently, attackers stormed two homes on Oct. 17, killing seven at a party and two more in another house nearby.

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By: Joan Neuhas Schaan

With some concern and disbelief, I have been astounded at the lack of understanding of the severity of the situation in Mexico and the possibility that it has crossed the border.

Last week, Dana Milbank of The Washington Post severely ridiculed reports from Arizona of decapitated heads found in the desert. This comment was made within a day or two of the discovery of two decapitated bodies in Chihuahua, Chihuahua, just south of El Paso, Texas.

While I cannot comment on the veracity of specific reports of headless bodies in the Arizona desert, the occurrence of headless bodies in Mexico has been epidemic. It is only a matter of time until the phenomenon is regularly encountered in the U.S.

Let me suggest the general public familiarize themselves with press reports since the first of this year. This is by no means an exhaustive list of the decapitation incidents, as many, if not most, incidents do not go reported.

* July 6, 2010: Two decapitate bodies found in Chihuahua, Chihuahua.
* Junue 30, 2010: A severed head was found on the doorstep of Ciudad Juarez mayoral candidate Hector Murguia. (Wall Street Journal)

* June 16, 2010: A police officer is found decapitated in Apodaca, Nuevo Leon. (Expresion Libre)

* June 2, 2010: Six human heads found in two Durango cities, Lerdo and Gomez Palacio. (EFE)

* May 10, 2010: Two decapitated bodies found in Cancun. (El Universal)

* May 4, 2010: Three decapitated bodies found in Costa Chica region, Guerrero. (Proceso.)

* April 12, 2010: Dismembered body found in Cuernavaca. (El Universal)

* April 11, 2010: Decapitated body found on Morelos highway between Cuernavaca and Acapulco. (El Universal)

* April 9, 2010: Report on December 2009 Reynosa dismemberment. (The Washington Times)

* April 3, 2010: Decapitated body of a female found in Chihuahua, Chihuahua. (El Diario Chihuahua.) Spring 2010: Police Chief of Aguascalientes, Nuevo Leon found decapitated.

* March 25, 2010: Decapitation victim found at shopping center in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua. (El Agora de Chihuahua)
* March 22, 2010: Two dismembered bodies found in Acapulco. (Reforma)

* March 10, 2010: Police find five heads in ice coolers in Guadalajara, Jalisco. (BBC News)

* Janaury 28, 2010: A head is found in an ice cooler in Quiroga, Michoacan.

* January 25, 2010: Decapitated head found on grave in Altamira, Tamaulipas. (El Universal)

Read more here.

HERMOSILLO, Mexico (AP) — A massive gun battle between rival drug and migrant trafficking gangs near the U.S. border Thursday left 21 people dead and at least six others wounded, prosecutors said.

The fire fight occurred in a sparsely populated area about 12 miles (20 kilometers) from the Arizona border, near the city of Nogales, that is considered a prime corridor for immigrant and drug smuggling.

The Sonora state Attorney General’s Office said in a statement that nine people were captured by police at the scene of the shootings, six of whom had been wounded in the confrontation. Eight vehicles and seven weapons were also seized.

All of the victims were believed to be members of the gangs.

The shootings occurred near a dirt road between the hamlets of Tubutama and Saric, in an area often used by traffickers.

Gangs often fight for control of trafficking routes and sometimes steal “shipments” of undocumented migrants from each other, but seldom have they staged such mass gun battles.

Gang violence near the Arizona border has led to calls from officials in the U.S. state for greater control of the border and is one reason given for a controversial law passed in April requiring Arizona police to ask people about their immigration status in certain situations.

In a city on another part of the U.S. border, gunmen killed an assistant attorney general for Chihuahua state and one of her bodyguards.

After being chased by armed assailants through the darkened streets of Ciudad Juarez, the vehicle carrying Sandra Salas Garcia and two bodyguards was riddled with bullets Wednesday night.

Arturo Sandoval, a spokesman for the Attorney General’s Office, said the second bodyguard was seriously wounded.

Salas was responsible for evaluating the work of prosecutors and special investigations units in Chihuahua.

Drug violence has killed more than 4,300 people in recent years in Ciudad Juarez, which borders El Paso, Texas.

More than 23,000 people have been killed by drug violence since late 2006, when President Felipe Calderon began deploying thousands of troops and federal police to drug hot spots.

Full text of Gov. Jan Brewer statement on Mexico, as provided by her office

I am very disappointed that the national government of our neighbors and friends to the south has chosen to file a brief in federal court that distorts the truth about Arizona and the United States.

Despite false assertions and factual inaccuracies expressed by the country of Mexico in their recent brief filed in U.S. federal court, Arizona’s immigration enforcement laws are both reasonable and….

…constitutional. They mirror what has been federal law in the United States for many decades, and they have built-in and clear protections for civil rights.
Arizona Governor Jan Brewer and Mexico president Felipe Calderon

The United States was formed as a nation of laws, and not of men. Arizonans are some of the most hospitable and generous people in the world, and we welcome visitors to share our incomparable natural beauty.

Our cultures and our trade are intertwined, and so must be our respect for the rule of law.

We refuse to accept that the United States government is unable to protect its citizens against a relentless and daily barrage of narco-terrorist drug and human smugglers. We will enforce, respect, and defend the laws of our land, including our laws that prosecute discrimination. We have taken additional steps to update training for our officers to legally enforce our new laws and to specifically prevent illegal racial profiling.

I will continue to fight tirelessly to protect the citizens of Arizona, and to defend Arizonans in federal court. I believe that Arizona will ultimately prevail and that our laws will be found constitutional.