Over the weekend: Government blows against “La Familia” continue; All quiet on the Honduran front

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Foreign News Report

The National Association of Former Border Patrol Officers (NAFBPO) extracts and condenses the material that follows from Mexican and Central and South American on-line media sources on a daily basis. You are free to disseminate this information, but we request that you credit NAFBPO as being the provider.

Saturday 8/1/09

 El Financiero (Mexico City) 7/31/09

 A chilling story

[The Mexico City newspaper  picked up the noteworthy story of 97 illegal aliens rescued from a refrigerator truck near Nogales, Arizona.]

US authorities reported that of the 97 immigrants rescued from a refrigerated trailer near Nogales, Arizona, (sic) 96 are Mexican and the other is Guatemalan.  The driver of  the truck is a US citizen.  Arizona Department of Public Safety (ADPS) agents [responding to a Border Patrol lookout] stopped the truck Thursday in which the undocumented immigrants were hidden.  All are in good condition despite their confinement in the refrigerated container.  Of the group, three were pregnant women and there were also several children between 8 and 12 years old who were returned to Mexico.


Drug disposal in Panama

Panamanian national police today destroyed more than five tons of drugs, mainly cocaine.  This second destruction of seized drugs this year was witnessed by Panama’s President Ricardo Martinelli.  In 2008, Panama destroyed more than 55 tons of drugs in their fight against narcotrafficking and the Mexican and Columbian drug cartels.


Precocious Chilean criminal

After chasing a stolen vehicle containing four minors who had just robbed a pharmacy, police in Santiago, Chile, arrested the driver, a nine-year-old identified only as “Cisarro”, after the car collided with a tree.  Cisarro was well-known to the police for his 15 previous arrests.  After number 15, he had been enrolled into a national youth program and had been “clean” for nine months prior to arrest number 16.


Frontera (Tijuana, Baja California) 7/31/09

 [Readers may have noticed that nearly all criminals mentioned in Mexican news stories have nicknames, some of them rather odd.  The following translated column relates to this custom.]

 Curious nicknames of the “narcos”

Edgar Valdez Villareal is probably the principal hired killer of one of the most bloody drug cartels in Mexico.  His nickname?  “La Barbie”.  Yes, like the little Mattel doll.  It happens that Valdez was born in the United States and is blonde-haired with blue eyes.  In the bloody underworld of organized crime, “La Barbie” is one of so many sinister characters with nicknames as peculiar as “Mando Conejo” [Head Rabbit], “Taliban” or “Mono”, [“Cutie” or “Monkey”, take your pick].  A case that shook Mexico was that of the “Pozolero del Teo” [Teo’s soup maker], a subject who, according to his confession, dissolved 300 cadavers in caustic soda; he made soup of them in narco slang.

The nicknames of narcotraffickers can be flashy and threatening or surreal and innocent.  Some reflect the rank of the thug, while others come from their school days.  Also they can allude to the reputation of the individual, like as in the case of a mafioso known as “El mas loco” [the craziest].  The nicknames, like as in the case of “La Barbie”, frequently have nothing to do with the person who carries it.  And often the same person has several nicknames, which makes the task of the authorities difficult.  Not only is it hard to find the real identity of the criminal, but sometimes the informants know a crook only by his nickname.  

 The police say that they include all the possible aliases of every suspect in their archives and make note that there are certain very common nicknames used by many people, like “Gordo” [Fatty].  The use of feminine nicknames like “La Barbie” is not unusual, and are generally tagged on before a person demonstrates his worth, according to Homero Aridjis, author of the novel “Sicarios”. [Hired assassins]  “The nicknames are like a second baptism, an incorporation into the criminal world,” he declared.

 There can also be innocents in a culture accustomed to giving nicknames to people, including even infants, as happened with the paid assassin Israel Nava, known all his life as “Ostion”, [oyster] until he was assassinated in April in the north of the country.  “In theory, that should be the nickname of someone who doesn’t talk much,” commented Paco Ignacio Taibo II, who writes police novels, “but it wasn’t so.  They called him ‘Ostion’ since primary school because his father had a stand where he sold fish.”  

Colombia, which produces the major part of the cocaine that passes through Mexico, also has a long tradition of colorful nicknames.  The killer Marco Tulio Moya, killed in 1999, was so efficient in his work that they called him “Baygon” for the insecticide of the same name.  “If you go to a poor neighborhood and ask for someone using his true name, nobody will know who he is,” writes the Colombian novelist Juan Jose Hoyos.  Many of the nicknames used by the Colombians are as naive as those of the Mexicans.  A brother of the capo Pablo Escobar, Roberto, was called “Osito” because it was the name of a bicycle business he had.

 In the case of Los Zetas, the armed branch of the Gulf cartel, a military style is used and they assign their people nicknames that start with the letter Z, followed by a number.  “Z1” to “Z10” are founding members.  The letter L followed by a number is reserved for bodyguards and helpers.  The larger the number, the lower the rank.  Some keep their high number as they rise in position.  Others change their nicknames, as did Ivan Velasquez Caballero, who set aside “L50” and came to be known as “Taliban.”  Authorities don’t know why Armando Santiago Orozco, captured in January in the state of Oaxaca, is known as “Mando Conejo.”  The capo Alfredo Beltran Leyva, arrested last year, is “El Mochomo,” the name of a harmful ant of the northeast of Mexico.  

 Often, the narcotraffickers are delighted with their nicknames.  Steve Robertson, veteran agent of the United States Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) said that the trafficker Gilberto Ontiveros, alias “El Greñas” [shaggy haired], when he was imprisoned in 1989 made other inmates prepare pins with artificial hair resembling his to sell to visitors.


 Sunday 8/2/09 

 El Financiero (Mexico City) 8/1/09

 Spanish editorial on the Venezuela situation

The Spanish newspaper, El Pais, in its editorial today asserted that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is “increasingly closer to dictatorship”.  The editorial sustained that it is more evident that Venezuela’s elections will not garner enough votes to guarantee a democratic system.  The editorial explained that one of the few arguments of Chavez’s government against those who accuse it of autocracy is that it respected criticism of its actions, but to the contrary, it closed Radio Caracas, among other news outlets, and harassed Globovision.  “Chavez, who controls every influential power, is considered a victim of those media,” contends El Pais.


Chavez defends radio closing

President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela today defended the closing of 34 radio stations “that were outside the law”, and said with this action “we are recovering space for the people”.  Answering critics of his actions, both citizen protest demonstrations and Congressional condemnation, Chavez called for calm and explained that revoking the concession of the radio stations was not a closing, but rather “the recovery of space for the people”.  Opposition directors marched through the streets of Caracas to the National Commission of Telecommunications to protest the closings and “in defense of democracy and freedom of expression”.


July summary of the fight  against organized crime

During the past month, the Mexican federal police arrested 41 narcotraffickers and 21 kidnappers and freed 5 kidnapping victims.  The capture of Arnoldo Rueda Medina, “La Minsa”, followed by the arrest of 23 of other members of his organization, dealt important blows to “La Familia Michoacána” crime organization.


Police commanders arrested

Mexican federal agents in the state of Tabasco arrested 22 state and municipal police commanders for presumed links to organized crime.  The federal Justice Department (PGR) reported that, following sufficient findings of connections with the Gulf cartel, warrants were issued on July 29, leading to the arrests.


 Cuarto Poder (Chiapas) 8/1/09

 “La Familia” loses six more

Police in Tuxla Gutierrez, Chiapas, arrested six members of the crime organization “La Familia Michoacána” during an early morning operation.  The group confessed that La Familia carried out the murders of 12 agents of the federal police in Michoacán.  The six included two females, one of whom, Lourdes Munoz Vela, is a native of Brownsville, Texas.  In their confessions, they said the 12 federal agents were executed on orders of Julio Cesar Godoy, “Comandante Godoy” and Jesus Morales Reyes, “El Gory”, and that the three commanders who carried out the orders by abducting and killing the agents in Michoacán were commonly known as “Borrego”, “Espanol”, and “El Guero Chavez”.  Each allegedly abducted four agents, executed them, then the three met and piled the bodies together.  [M3 Report 7/15/09 relates.]


 Cambio de Michoacán (Morelia, Michoacán) 8/1/09

 Strategy “a failure”

Mexican Senator Silvano Aureoles Conejo of the leftist PRD party, said in Morelia, Michoacán, today that President Calderon’s decision to use the Army to combat organized crime “has been a failure”.  For this reason, he demands the urgent withdrawal of the Armed Forces from the streets before they are infiltrated by narcos and lose credibility with Mexican society.  He said that since three years ago when it was decided to bring the Army to combat organized crime, the negative numbers have skyrocketed.  There is more drug consumption and the number of deaths has tripled he said.  “With those numbers, we come to the conclusion that is it has been a failure using the Army in this task,” he added.


Safe-house seized

A force of 150 heavily armed Mexican Army personnel took possession of a house in Morelia presumably used by “La Familia Michoacána” crime organization as a safe-house.  The troops arrived this afternoon to secure the house and are awaiting a judicial warrant to carry out a thorough search of the premises in which they expect to locate arms and drugs.


 El Debate (Sinaloa) 8/1/09

 Military seizes arms and drugs

Mexican Army troops in Sinaloa seized arms, drugs and vehicles in operations extending from July 23 to 30.  In total, the Army seized 126 rifles, 65 pistols, clips, ammo, 7 vehicles, 3 houses, 435 kilos of marijuana, $6,150 US and 196,000 pesos [$14,845].  It was noted that most of the arms seized were not of exclusive use by the military.  [An accompanying photo showed one of the rifles with “cap and ball” action.]


Other Sinaloa headlines

• 94 murders during July

• Police find decapitated body

• Man shot to death in hotel

• One death in attack against family


 La Voz de la Frontera (Mexicali, Baja California) 8/1/09

 Funeral noted

The Mexicali newspaper carried the AP story covering the funeral services for US Border Patrol Agent Robert Rosas who was killed in the line of duty on July 23.  Mexicali is a neighboring city to El Centro, California, where the funeral took place.


 Monday 8/3/09

 El Financiero (Mexico City) 8/2/09

 Zelaya desires peaceful return

Deposed President of Honduras Manuel Zelaya assured that he foresees returning to Honduras by peaceful means and that though he is willing to assume leadership of the government, he promises not to run in the next elections.  He was quoted as saying, “I wish to prepare my return by peaceful means.  Honduras must know: I am ready to assume leadership at the opportune moment.  At present, we are organizing the resistance.”


Canada recognizes the importance of day workers

The Canadian Embassy in Mexico advised that it will promote mechanisms so that the requirement of visas from Mexican citizens does not obstruct the temporary agricultural worker program.  A little more than two weeks after the Canadian government began requiring  visas from Mexican citizens, the government of that country, through its embassy in Mexico, recognized the importance of the day laborers and is taking steps not to impede the program.


 -end of report-

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