Army troops sent to patrol Mexico City suburb

As Mexico has aggressively militarized its "drug war" over the past years, the nation's capital has been an exception, with authorities reluctant to send soliders to patrol the seat of federal power—until now. Over 1,000 army troops have been mobilized to the streets of Nezahualcóyotl, a suburb of Mexico City, just south of the Federal District line in México state, which has seen a dramatic increase of violence in the past weeks. The México state Prosecutor General says 119 assassinations have been registered so far this year, mostly in Nezahualcóyotl. The decision to send in army troops—under a program dubbed "Operation Neza"—was apparently sparked by the Sept. 16 stabbing death of México state lawmaker Jaime Serrano Cedillo of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI). Although subsequent reports have indicated he was killed by his wife in a domestic dispute, Serrano was the second PRI politician killed in as many days last week. On Sept. 15, Eduardo Castro Luque, newly elected to the Sonora state legislature, was shot full of nine bullets in front of his home in Ciudad Obregón. The twin slayings came when the country was on high alert for Independence Day celebrations, with extra troops deployed to conflicted states to head off terror attacks on the festivities. The PRI, a once-entrenched political machine, returns to power after 12 years in opposition, when president-elect Enrique Peña Nieto takes office in December. (LAT, AP, Sept. 21; WSJEl País, Spain, Sept. 20; EFE, AP, La Jornada, Sept. 15)

A scandal shook Sonoran politics last month with the arrest of another PRI politician, Rafael Celaya Valenzuela, who is accused of doing legal work for Sinaloa Cartel members trying to establish a beachhead in Spain. Celaya Valenzuela was a primary-election candidate  for Mexico's Congress from the district that includes San Luís Río Colorado, the border city south of Yuma, Ariz. After losing the primary, he became campaign director for the winner, outgoing San Luís mayor Manuel Baldenebro Arredondo (best known north of the border for his policy of crediting citizens 200 pesos for each wild dog they could kill). (Arizona Daily Star, Aug. 27)

Los Zetas in border jailbreak
Controversy surrounds a Sept. 17 jailbreak in Piedras Negras, a border town in Coahuila state, in which 131 inmates escaped. Although they were originally reported to have fled through a tunnel, authorities now say they walked out the facility's front door. The prison's director and other officials in the city have been detained. A massive manhunt is underway, but only three of the escaped inmates have been recaptured. "The statements from those we've captured confirm that they left through the door," Coahuila's Public Security Secretary Jorge Luis Morán said. "There was total complicity, collusion and betrayal from the officers charged with preventing them from escaping." He also said he believed Los Zetas were behind the mass jailbreak, described in the local media as the "escape of the century." In the past six years, more than 700 inmates have escaped from Mexican jails and prisons, with authorities blaming the Zetas gang for organizing many prison riots and jailbreaks. (BBC News, Sept. 21; Vanguardia, Sept. 19)

Dismembered bodies in Michoacán
Authorities in Michoacán reported Sept. 22 the discovery of seven burned and dismembered bodies in the bed of a pickup truck on a highway east of Lake Chapala, between the towns of Sahuayo and La Barca. Seventeen other bodies were discovered about 20 kilometers away along the same highway six days earlier. The area is near the border with Jalisco, and the scene of a violent turf war by the Jalisco-based New Generation group and the Michoacán-based Knights Templar. (AP, Sept. 22)