Mexican authorities on Oct. 1 claimed another coup against the cartels, announcing the arrest of Héctor Beltran Leyva, last remaining kingpin of the Beltran Leyva Organization—the declining crime machine that once controlled much of the west and central parts of the country. Beltran Leyva was taken into custody by army troops "without a shot fired" as he dined in a seafood restaurant in the tourist town of San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato state. (LAT, Oct. 1) The capture follows that earlier this year of the Sinaloa Cartel's long-fugitive jefe máximo Joaquin Guzmán Loera AKA "El Chapo"—marking another score for President Enrique Peña Nieto, and his supposed new and more sophisticated policy against the cartels.
Mexican authorities unearthed five recently buried bodies from a clandestine grave in the rural pueblo of Mochicahui, El Fuerte municipality, Sinaloa state, officials announced July 21—the latest in a long string of such gruesome finds that the press in Mexico has dubbed narco-fosas, or narco-graves. Sinaloa state prosecutors were tipped off by a local resident whose family member was among the disappeared. Peasants in the region are terrorized by the Sinaloa Cartel, which makes a grisly example of those unwilling to cooperate in its drug-running operations. (EFE, July 21)
Mexico's government has pledged to deploy more security forces to Tamaulipas—right on the Texas border, and one of the country's most violent states. Mexican Governance Minister Miguel Angel Osorio promised a "new phase" of action against the state's warring drug cartels. The move was prompted by the May 5 assassination of Salvador Haro Muñoz, the Tamaulipas state government intelligence chief, in an ambush on his car in the state capital, Ciudad Victoria. Ten officers from the Tamaulipas state police force have been arrested by federal authorities in connection with the hit, which was said to have been carried out by the Zetas narco-paramilitary network. Also detained was José Manuel López Guijón, security chief for Tamaulipas Gov. Egidio Torre Cantú.
A delegation of 15 Hondurans traveled to Mexico City in mid-April to seek a meeting with Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto and ask for his government to provide Central American migrants with a "humanitarian visa" allowing them to travel safely through Mexico on their way to the US. The delegation represented the 432 members of the Association of Migrants Returning with Disabilities (Amiredis), an organization of Hondurans injured while trying to cross Mexico; the vice president, Norman Saúl Varela, lost a leg while riding north through the southern state of Tabasco on a freight train that migrants call "The Beast." The group failed to get an interview with President Peña Nieto, but they managed to meet with Governance Undersecretary Paloma Guillén on April 11. (El País, Madrid, April 13 from correspondent)
Three gun-battles in one day left at least 13 dead in the Mexican border city of Matamoros Nov. 2, Tamaulipas state authorities acknowledged. A statement from the Tamaulipas Coordination Group—the liaison office between state and federal forces—said two of the shoot-outs were between Mexican Marines and "armed civilians," the standard euphemism for cartel gunmen. One woman was among the 13 dead, who were also identified as "civilians"—leaving it unclear if they were combatants or by-standers. What press accounts called "narco-blockades" cut off traffic on the city's principal avenues. (Global Post, Crónica de Hoy, Nov. 4; Proceso, Nov. 3) Nov. 11 saw another outburst in the neighboring border city of Reynosa, with federal forces and presumed cartel gunmen having a high-speed shoot-out in a car chase through several neighborhoods. Allegedly, only one of the gunmen was killed, but video footage provided by the Facebook-coordinated network Valor por Tamaulipas showed a car overturned in road pile-up. (El Diario de Coahuila, Nov. 11)
A new riot between rival gangs in the dangerously overcrowded prison at Altamira, in the Mexican border state Tamaulipas, left seven inmates dead Oct. 26. State authorities said the prisoners were killed with makeshift knives in a fight in one cellblock at the facility, officially known as the Execution and Sanction Center (CEDES). Thirty-one inmates died in a riot in the same prison early last year, pointing to a crisis rooted in the confluence of teeming lock-ups and the bloody narco wars being waged in Tamaulipas both inside and outside the prisons. The state is currently Mexico's most violent. The CEDES was designed to hold 2,000 inmates, but now has a population of more than 3,000. (AP, Notimex, Oct. 26)
US officials were secretly critical of the militarized anti-narcotic policies of former Mexican president Felipe Calderón Hinojosa (2006-2012) at the same time that the US government was funding and publicly backing them, according to declassified documents that the Washington, DC-based research group National Security Archive posted on its website on Nov. 6. The documents are among 30 official reports and diplomatic cables, with dates from Aug. 25, 2007 to May 22, 2012, that the US government released as a result of a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request from the National Security Archive and other organizations in Mexico and the US.
In very disturbing news from Mexico's northeast border state of Tamaulipas, police on Oct. 1 said they rescued 73 abducted migrants outside Reynosa after following their apparent captors to a house and hearing frantic calls for help. Of the victims, 37 were Mexicans, 19 were from Honduras, 14 from Guatemala and another three from El Salvador. They included women and minors, some of whom reported having been sexually abused. Three suspects were detained, who are believed to have seized the migrants on buses they stopped in the desert. Some of the victims had been held for up to four months while their captors demanded payment from their families, police said. Weapons and drugs were also seized at the home, including nearly 700 rounds of bullets, a hand grenade, and almost 10,000 kilograms (22,046 pounds) of what was "believed to be" marijuana. (Reuters, Oct. 2)