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Given the levels of extreme violence that Mexico is experiencing, former President Vicente Fox proposes the creation of a liaison group of international experts to mediate a truce with organized crime, and the creation of an amnesty law.
Mexican President Felipe Calderon declared three days of mourning Friday for the 52 victims of a casino fire set by presumed drug traffickers, branding the attackers "true terrorists" and ordering authorities to offer a $2.4 million reward for their capture.
Calderon also once again lashed out at the United States, saying it is not doing enough to reduce the country's high demand for illicit drugs or to stop the illegal trafficking of U.S. weapons into Mexico
Buried in President Calderon's speech on a Monterrey arson attack which left more than 50 dead was the key to why it happened: the rise of illegal gambling establishments in Mexico under his watch, and the emerging battle in the underworld for control of these money-laundering havens.
In the middle of the afternoon on August 25 a group of armed men entered the Casino Royale in Monterrey, north Mexico. They poured gasoline around the building and set it alight, killing at least 52 people.
President Felipe Calderon rushed to condemn the killings, spending most of a 20-minute speech admonishing the "terrorists" for their barbarity and the United States for its consumption of illegal drugs, before hastily adding a single phrase which cuts to the heart of the matter -- the struggle for control of illegal gambling houses.
Hundreds of soldiers and federal agents are raiding casinos in this northern city, authorities said Saturday, two days after an arson attack on a gambling house killed 52 people and stunned a country that had become numb to massacres and beheadings.
Security forces had so far confiscated about 1,500 slot machines at 11 casinos in Monterrey and its surroundings and arrested three people, Mexico's tax agency said. It said the continuing operation was meant to verify whether casinos had paid taxes or introduced slot machines illegally.
The Obama administration has expanded its role in Mexico’s fight against organized crime by allowing the Mexican police to stage cross-border drug raids from inside the United States, according to senior administration and military officials.
Mexican commandos have discreetly traveled to the United States, assembled at designated areas and dispatched helicopter missions back across the border aimed at suspected drug traffickers. The Drug Enforcement Administration provides logistical support on the American side of the border, officials said, arranging staging areas and sharing intelligence that helps guide Mexico’s decisions about targets and tactics.
Officials said these so-called boomerang operations were intended to evade the surveillance — and corrupting influences — of the criminal organizations that closely monitor the movements of security forces inside Mexico. And they said the efforts were meant to provide settings with tight security for American and Mexican law enforcement officers to collaborate in their pursuit of criminals who operate on both sides of the border.
"They should decriminalize drugs and get help from the Israeli, French or German police forces who have proven effective in combating crime," he said.
The 82 year old Mexican writer, and social and political activist, acknowledged that he was stunned by the horrific "narco" attack at the Casino Royale in Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, that killed 53 people.
"Unless steps are taken to legalize drugs in coordination with the United States, which is the biggest drug market, and unless more effective internal police actions are forthcoming, the drug cartels will defeat the Mexican Army and the country's unarmed society," argued Fuentes.
The writer, along with former presidents of Mexico, Colombia and Brazil, Ernesto Zedillo, Carlos Gaviria and Fernando Cardoso, is part of a group working for a culture without drugs and favors the legalization "in principle, of their consumption."
Federal officials said Thursday they've busted a drug trafficking ring involving Mexico's most powerful cartel and members of an Iraqi immigrant community in the U.S. who were caught selling illegal drugs, assault rifles, grenades and homemade explosives.
About 60 people from the Iraqi community were arrested after a six-month investigation carried out by the Drug Enforcement Administration and police in the city of El Cajon, a working-class city east of San Diego.
Many of the suspects are Iraqi Chaldeans - Christians who fled their homeland amid threats from al-Qaida and other extremists. Police say at least some of those arrested are suspected of being affiliated with the Chaldean Organized Crime Syndicate, an Iraqi gang based in Detroit.
Authorities say the suspects were working out of an Iraqi social club in El Cajon and shipping drugs supplied by Mexico's powerful Sinaloa cartel to Detroit, home to the largest Chaldean population in the United States, according to the federal indictment unsealed Thursday. El Cajon has the second largest Chaldean population.
“In congressional testimony, William Newell, former ATF special agent in charge of the Phoenix Field Division, testified that the Internal Revenue Service, Drug Enforcement Administration and Immigration and Customs Enforcement were “full partners” in Operation Fast and Furious. Mr. Newell’s list left out the most important player: the CIA. According to a CIA insider, the agency had a strong hand in creating, orchestrating and exploiting Operation Fast and Furious,” report Farago and Nixon.
The program, with its designated cover of tracking where guns went so drug lords who purchased them could later be arrested downstream, was actually a deliberate effort to prevent the Los Zetas drug cartel from staging a successful coup d’etat against the government of Felipe Calderon by arming rival gang Sinaloa, according to the Times writers, a relationship that extended to “(allowing) the Sinaloas to fly a 747 cargo plane packed with coc aine into American airspace – unmolested.”
“The CIA made sure the trade wasn’t one-way. It persuaded the ATF to create Operation Fast and Furious – a “no strings attached” variation of the agency’s previous firearms sting. By design, the ATF operation armed the Mexican government’s preferred cartel on the street level near the American border, where the Zetas are most active,” states the report.
The notion that Fast and Furious was used as a cover through which to arm the the Sinaloa cartel would explain why the feds showed little interest in following up where guns ended up once they left the United States.
The Mexican government is acknowledging that U.S. intelligence agents operate in Mexican territory to help combat drug cartels, but refused to discuss a report they have been posted to a base in northern Mexico and have helped in interrogations, wiretaps and running informant networks.
The participation of U.S. agents and the designation of a new U.S. ambassador, Anthony Wayne, whose last posting was Afghanistan, has raised concerns that America may view Mexico as an Afghan-style battleground.
Mexico has already acknowledged it allows U.S. drones to conduct non-piloted surveillance flights over Mexican territory, though it says it “controls” the flights; a Mexican official is present in the drones’ control room.
“In recent months, Washington’s growing military, political, intelligence and police interference has been documented in many ways, as has the Mexican government’s acceptance of it,” the newspaper La Jornada wrote in an editorial Monday.
The New York Times reported over the weekend that CIA agents and former U.S. military personnel are working at a Mexican military base, and that officials have weighed the possibility of sending private military contractors. The use of such contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan was marred by scandals.
Placards left at the scene of the executions today and at several sites during the weekend were signed by a previously unheard of group calling itself "La Nueva Empresa" (the new company) or "La Nueva Administracion" (the new administration).