Category: Breaking News

Violence in Cancun, Playa del Carmen and Los Cabos threaten Mexico’s tourism industry

(USA TODAY) — PLAYA DEL CARMEN, Mexico — Tourists taking the ferry from this tourist town to the island of Cozumel now walk down a wharf lined with police, heavily armed soldiers and bomb-sniffing dogs.

Those safeguards came after a Feb. 21 explosion ripped through one of the ferries, injuring 24 people, including five Americans. Explosives were later found on another ferry owned by the same company.

“It’s something that makes you feel safer,” Roberto Cintrón, president of the Cancún hotel owners’ association, said about the soldiers and security after a recent ferry ride to Cozumel. “It’s the complete opposite situation of the insecurity many people think of.”

Numerous reports about crime and tourist tragedies have made recent headlines as the violence plaguing this country erupts in cities popular with foreign visitors.

Incidents causing concern in Cancún and outlying Quintana Roo state range from bars allegedly serving adulterated liquor to unsuspecting tourists to police targeting visitors in rental cars for bribes.

A vacationing Iowa family of four was found dead March 23 in a condo in Tulum on the Caribbean coast. Authorities suspect the cause was a gas leak from a faulty water heater

Violence in resort cities such as Cancún, Playa del Carmen (in Quintana Roo state) and Los Cabos resembles the rest of the country, but it threatens Mexico’s lucrative tourism industry.

“The common thread in Los Cabos and Quintana Roo is the public security system had been totally dismantled,” said Francisco Rivas, director of the National Citizen Observatory, which monitors security issues in Mexico. “There were prosecutor’s offices that didn’t investigate and police that couldn’t prevent or react to crime.”

Analysts offer a variety of explanations for the rising crime across Mexico, from drug cartels to the U.S. opioid crisis prompting cartels to switch from growing marijuana to producing heroin.

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Mexican cartel dumps bodies near Texas border

(BREITBART) — RIO BRAVO, Tamaulipas — Cartel gunmen continue their gruesome executions in this border area as part of a territorial war. In one of the most recent cases, they dumped the bodies of two tortured victims and set a vehicle on fire to attract attention to threatening narco-messages left behind.

The execution took place in Rio Bravo before Mexican authorities responded to a highway overpass where a white Volkswagen Jetta was on fire. When emergency crews responded, they found the bodies of two men and a poster-board with a cartel message.

The two male victims were described as having a slim build, showing obvious signs of torture, and apparent gunshot wounds to their faces.

The two victims are part of the ongoing wave of violence that continues to take hold of the border cities of Rio Bravo and Reynosa. As Breitbart Texas reported, the bloodshed is tied to an ongoing war for control of the region between two rival factions of the Gulf Cartel.

The escalating violence is leading to daily shootouts in Reynosa where cartel gunmen recently performed ambush attacks on Mexican state police officers deployed for Holy Week and Easter.

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U.S., Mexico join forces on new front in drug war

(TEXARKANA GAZETTE) — The U.S. and Mexican governments are sparring over immigration and trade, but the two countries are joining forces on the high seas like never before to go after drug smugglers.

The United States, Mexico and Colombia will target drug smugglers off South America’s Pacific coast in an operation that is scheduled to begin Sunday and last for the foreseeable future, Coast Guard officials told The Associated Press.

U.S. Coast Guard Adm. Paul F. Zukunft teased the idea during a recent defense conference in San Diego, saying the United States “can’t do it alone.”

“It’s no secret we are besieged with the flow of drugs from Latin America to the United States,” he said.

U.S. and Mexican forces have routinely worked together at sea, but the latest effort “marks a significant step in terms of information sharing, collaboration and cooperation between the United States, Mexico and other partner nations,” according to the Coast Guard.

The Americans and Mexicans will exchange intelligence more freely than in the past, which could mean sharing information on well-traveled routes for drug smugglers or preferred paths for specific smuggling organizations, Coast Guard spokeswoman Alana Miller said.

They will also board the other country’s vessels to view operations and gain expertise, Miller said. In 2015, three members of the Mexican navy boarded a Coast Guard vessel during a port call in Huatulco, Mexico, but this operation calls for more frequent exchanges, and they will be at sea.

The operation will last “for the foreseeable future as long as it’s working for everyone,” Miller said. “It’s sort of open-ended.”

Traffickers over the years have increasingly turned to the sea to move their illegal goods, traversing an area off South America that is so big, the continental United States could be dropped inside. Smugglers routinely move cocaine out of countries like Colombia to Central America and Mexico via fishing boats, skiffs, commercial cargo ships—even homemade submarines.

The operation comes after five years of record seizures by the Coast Guard. But U.S. officials say because of limited resources, the U.S. military’s smallest service still catches only about 25 percent of illegal shipments in the Pacific.

Even so, the Coast Guard annually seizes three times the amount of cocaine confiscated at the U.S.-Mexico border. Yet ocean smuggling has not grabbed lawmakers’ attention like the flow of drugs across the nearly 2,000-mile-long land border, where the Trump administration wants to spend billions to build a continuous wall.

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Camo-wearing men with backpacks stream into U.S. from Mexico border

(BREITBART) — by Penny Starr

PHOENIX, Arizona – Jim Chilton knows a thing or two about border security in the United States. The multi-generational rancher’s 50,000-acre beef cattle operation stretches along the border between Arizona and Mexico.

Most of that border is marked by a four-strand barbed wire fence that allows for easy entry by slipping beneath it or cutting it to make an open pathway.

After living on the ranch for 30 years with his wife, Sue, Chilton is on a mission to document how the unsecured border allows drug and human traffickers easy access to the U.S.

“Most of our ranch is occupied by the Sinaloa Cartel,” Chilton told Breitbart News, referring to one of the largest and most brutal drug trafficking operations in Mexico.

Breitbart Texas has reported extensively on cartel operations in Mexico and the United States, including the Sinaloa.

Last year, leaked U.S. government surveillance images exclusively obtained by Breitbart Texas showed armed Mexican cartel smugglers crossing the U.S.-Mexico border and entering into Arizona. Border Patrol officially confirmed the images’ authenticity in an exclusive interview.

Not only are bad guys bringing drugs, weapons, and people across the border, but cartel scouts are also positioned on mountaintops to alert illegal entrants of the whereabouts of Custom and Border Patrol agents, Chilton added, as Breitbart News has reported.

“The Sinaloa Cartel [is] on our mountains, and they know what we’re doing at all times,” Chilton said.

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Cartel boss claims Mexican governor gave him money for votes

(BREITBART) — By Ildefonso Ortiz and Brandon Darby

One of Mexico’s top cartel leaders made the public claim that the sitting governor of Michoacan paid him a large sum of money for votes and recently offered more cash for peace. The cartel leader claims that since he turned down the second offer, he is now a target for execution.

“Why is Silvano doing this? The problem is I am not convenient to him–I know too much,” said Nicolas “El Gordo” Sierra, the top leader of the Los Viagras, a group considered by law enforcement to be the armed wing of La Nueva Familia Michoacana Cartel. In the video released through social media, Sierra claims his reluctance to make a new deal with Governor Silvano Aureoles Conejo and the fact that “he knows too much” triggered the state government to send police forces to kill him.

“At the start of your campaign you sent me $1 million pesos to help you with votes,” Sierra says. “Twenty days ago, you tried to offer me $10 million pesos to ensure the safety of the state–to hook me into making a commitment to you and if I didn’t keep my part, you would send the government against me … You are mad because I turned down the money.”

The accusations come days after the Mexican Army was shamed into arresting one of the chief enforcers for Los Viagras. Mexican soldiers and Michoacan police tracked down Jordy “El H” Oseguera aka Jordi Villa Patricio; his capture came six days after Breitbart Texas published a series of exclusive photographs that showed the Oseguera and Mexican soldiers apparently interacting in a friendly fashion. Following the apparent crackdown on Los Viagras, cartel gunmen spent several days torching vehicles throughout the state to pressure authorities into releasing Oseguera.

“We are puppets of the politicians, we are distractions–that’s how they want to keep us,” Sierra said.

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Mexican journalist killed after threats from local mayor

(BREITBART) — by Ildefonso Ortiz and Brandon Darby

Press freedom groups denounced the murder of a Mexican journalist who was gunned down after receiving threats and bribe offers to stop reporting on a local politician in the state of Veracruz.

Unknown gunmen shot and killed Leobardo Vasquez Atzin in the town of Gutierrez Zamora, Veracruz. The murder comes just days after Vasquez stated on his Facebook page, Enlace Informativo Regional, that he received threats after reporting on public corruption in the town of Tecolutla. The town’s mayor is allegedly involved in an illicit property grab. Vasquez worked for various local newspapers before starting Enlace Informativo Regional.

“The murder of Leobardo Vázquez Atzin is the latest in a string of murders in Veracruz state, the most dangerous area for journalists in the western hemisphere,” Jan-Albert Hootsen the Mexico representative for the press freedom organization Committee to Protect Journalists said in a prepared statement denouncing the murder.

Vasquez’ murder is the third of its kind in Mexico since the start of 2018. This follows a bloody 2017 where more than a dozen journalists were murdered with complete impunity. The ongoing attacks on reporters and the press led the International Press Institute to label Mexico as the deadliest country for journalists. The number of murders of journalists surpassed Iraq and Syria, Breitbart Texas reported at the time.

Last year, three of the murders took place in Veracruz, considered to be one of the deadliest states for journalists.

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Self-defense forces forming in Jalisco? ‘It’s time for the criminals to clear off and steal from somewhere else’

(MEXICO NEWS DAILY) — In the face of rising levels of crime in Jalisco there is evidence that self-defense forces have formed in the state capital.

People presumed to be residents of Guadalajara are using social media to recruit new members to vigilante groups to patrol the streets of neighborhoods plagued by crime, such as Jardines Alcalde, the newspaper Reforma reported today.

The attitude of the posts accompanied by the hashtag #YoSoyAutodefensaYaBasta (I’m a Self-Defense Member Enough Already) is one of open defiance and outright aggression.

“We already have 30 members in the self-defense group. It’s time for the criminals to clear off and steal from somewhere else. Whoever comes in, I’m ready and I don’t give a damn if I take a few bullets; I prefer that than them shooting someone in my family,” a presumed member of a self-defense group in Jardines Alcalde wrote.

“If you catch people red-handed, before you take action, send a message so that the others arrive in support to give them a good beating,” another presumed member said.

Other posts offer advice about applying for a firearm permit as well as how to use it and where to practice.

Although some social media users who have commented on the posts see the creation of self-defense groups as a radical measure, the majority defend the move as a last resort, citing the lack of protection provided by official security forces.

The president of a residents’ association in Jardines Alcalde told Reforma that the emergence of self-defense groups in the area is worrying, adding that municipal police are monitoring the situation.

Salvador Quiroz Nuño explained that local residents are fed up with crime and pointed out that while the residents’ group doesn’t support the actions of people who take law enforcement into their own hands, it doesn’t tell them not to.

Another self-defense group reportedly formed in the Alcalde Barranquitas neighborhood at the end of last year, where residents armed themselves with Tasers and pepper spray to ward off intruders.

In addition to high robbery rates, violent crime has also plagued Guadalajara and Jalisco in the first two months of 2018.

There were more than 120 homicides in the state in both January and February and 60 in the first week of March.

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Authorities disband Tlaquepaque police

(MEXICO NEWS DAILY) — The municipal police force in Tlaquepaque, Jalisco, has been disarmed and temporarily disbanded due to the suspected collusion of some of its officers with organized crime.

Federal Police, the army, the federal Attorney General’s office (PGR) and the Jalisco state police jointly carried out an operation at 7:00am yesterday at the municipality’s main police station, located in the metropolitan area of Guadalajara.

Personnel from the state Attorney General’s office said the operation was connected to the discovery last week of eight bodies in an abandoned pickup truck in the Guadalajara neighborhood of Morelos.

The newspaper El Universal reported today that a list of names of municipal police officers who are allegedly on the payroll of a drug cartel was found among the possessions of one of the bodies. State authorities have neither confirmed nor denied the claim.

Jalisco Governor Aristóteles Sandoval, who last week warned of worsening insecurity in the state, announced the decision to disarm and suspend the Tlaquepaque police via social media.

“Doing this represents a forceful measure in the face of the insecurity the metropolis is suffering. We’re willing to act with full force until the last day [of this administration]. I know that I have the support of the people; we all want to live in peace . . .” he wrote.

Sandoval said that state police would take over policing duties in Tlaquepaque while municipal officers are at the police academy for training and reevaluation. State Attorney General Raúl Sánchez Jiménez later said that the intervention could last up to 30 days.

But in contrast with the government’s stated justification, the municipal government charged that the operation may be politically motivated.

Tlaquepaque Mayor María Elena Limón, who represents the Citizens’ Movement Party, was not informed about the operation prior to it taking place.

At a press conference yesterday afternoon, Limón said the local government had still not received any documentation about the state government’s actions nor had she heard from Governor Sandoval.

The mayor also said that if the state government doesn’t present evidence within three days to show that municipal police are infiltrated by organized crime, the real motive of the operation will become clear.

“If there are officers linked to organized crime we will be the first to take action to clean out our police but if, on the other hand, the investigation takes one or two weeks, I will understand that this action of the Jalisco government has political overtones and is seeking to influence the elections in July,” Limón said.

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MURDER IN PARADISE How Mexico’s party hotspot Cancun has become one of the world’s murder capitals

(THE SUN) — THE Mexican tourist hotspot of Cancun is in the grips of a violent and growing crime wave that threatens to leave it a ghost town.

Violence has escalated to such an extent that the murder rate has doubled in the past year – with 169 killings recorded in the first half of last year alone.

Amid a thriving drug trade and widespread extortion, fear is rampant and most of the murders go unsolved.

Now, the situation is so dire that its multi-billion dollar tourism industry is under threat.

British journalist Krishnan Guru-Murthy traveled to Mexico for SBS’s Dateline to investigate why so many murders are taking place.

“This is one of the most beautiful views in the world and we are the only people here,” Guru-Murthy said from Cancun’s main beach.

Later on, just before sunset, he found himself in the middle of a crime scene — a man had been gunned down in the sand. Four men had come in through a luxury hotel and attacked the man, who later died in hospital. And this was meant to be one of the safer places in the area frequented by tens of thousands of Brit tourist ever year.

Guru-Murthy was also shocked by the lack of police presence, with many tourists unaware of the gruesome sight just meters away.

“It’s as if the police don’t want anyone to notice. There’s minimum fuss and hardly any officers here,” he said.

While it’s the third shooting on the beach in Cancun this year, tourists are deliberately not told of the dangers.

Even when a well-known police commander, his wife and baby nephew were shot dead, nobody was arrested.

There are fears that Cancun is now on the brink of ruin and could face a similar demise as another well known Mexican resort, Acapulco.

This was once one of the world’s most glamorous locations but is now Mexico’s murder capital.

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15 KILLED IN ONE DAY AS MEXICAN CARTEL BURNS ACAPULCO

(BREITBART) — Violence continues to spiral in the once popular beach resort town of Acapulco, Guerrero. In one day, teams of gunmen carried out multiple executions and clashed with police forces, spreading terror among the tourists who still travel to the area.

The violence took place over the weekend as thousands of international tourists are expected to arrive at Mexico’s various beach resorts for the vacation season that includes Spring Break and Holy Week.

State authorities confirmed that they clashed twice with groups of gunmen, setting off a series of fierce firefights. Through a prepared statement, state police Pedro Almazan Cervantes claimed that no one was injured or killed and they managed to arrest two suspected gunmen. Almazan also stated that they would be performing various enforcement operations throughout the region.

The statements by state police make no mention of two cartel gunmen who were killed during the clashes and five others wounded. Authorities also made no mention of more than six vehicles that were set on fire during the shootouts.

Government officials have remained silent about more than a dozen murders in one day in the area. One of the first took place in the tourist area outside of the famed Krystal Hotel where cartel gunmen shot and killed an unidentified man as he was walking out of the building. Soon after, the bodies of two men were discovered along Miguel Aleman Avenue, the main roadway that leads to the city’s port. The two men were tied up and had been tortured.

Soon after that execution, cartel gunmen dumped the bodies of three other men tortured and left next to a poster-board, threatening public officials. Authorities also discovered the body of a man inside a car that had been set on fire. The bodies of three other men were discovered in the nearby resort town of Ixtapa Zihuatanejo. The victims had all been tied up, shot, and left with another threatening cartel message.

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