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Mexican Marines arrest seven Zeta cartel members for the murder of 72 migrants

The Associated Press is reporting that Mexican Military soldiers arrested seven Los Zetas cartel gunmen who shot and killed 72 Central and South American migrants who were headed to the United States.

The Mexican government announced that four of the suspects were apprehended after a Sept. 3rd shootout with Mexican military and three more were captured a few days later. The Marines were alerted by a survivor who somehow escaped the mass slaughter, authorities found the bodies of 72 migrants on Aug. 24 at a ranch in the northern state of Tamaulipas, spokesman Alejandro Poire said earlier at a news conference.

It is alleged that all seven arrested belong to the ultra-violent Los Zetas organization, but Poire gave no further details on their identities.

It has been reported that the 72 migrants were killed because they refused to work for the Zetas or haul illegal drugs across the border to U.S. consumers.

If this account is true, it will be the worst drug cartel massacre in Mexico so far, adding another glib record to the country’s battle with drug warlords.

Recently, the two police officers charged with leading the investigation on the murders went missing; they have now been recovered- dead.

The Tamaulipas state Attorney General’s Office said on Tuesday that identification was found on the police officers bodies and it matched those of the missing officials; state detective Roberto Suarez Vazquez and Juan Carlos Suarez Sanchez, who lead the Public Safety dept. of San Fernando were the latest victims of the bloodthirsty cartels.

The drug-related bloodshed in Mexico increasingly has the hallmarks of an insurgency, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said in a BBC report. “It’s looking more and more like Colombia looked 20 years ago, when the narco-traffickers controlled certain parts of the country,” she said.

As the killings continue south of the border Americans and Mexicans will be forced to deal with ugly truth that the cartels are still in control and they use fear as a major tool in their violent arsenal.

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Illicit guns from other countries- not America- fuel drug cartels in Mexico

The battle for Mexico’s heart and soul has risen to the highest levels- not only is the country suffering from an explosive drug cartel battle, but Mexico’s very existence is embroiled in a narco-state clash.

The soul of a country lies within its citizenry and right now Mexico is losing the mêlée to the drug cartels. President Felipe Calderon has embarked on a noble quest and has promised to dethrone the powerful drug cartels from Mexico, yet in the past three years it’s the citizens who have lost 28,000 lives (and counting) to earth-shattering barbaric violence, like beheadings, perpetrated by mafia-type drug gangs.

Gone are the days of Poncho Villa as these thugs in Mexico are gaining the upper hand. They are replacing cartel leaders who have been killed or captured by the government with a more treacherous, vicious brand of brutality. The new drug cartel leaders must prove they mean business by exacting atrocious acts to garner fear and loyalty within Mexico’s borders.

The root of this evil is money – billions are made each year in Mexico from the drug trade. In an effort to capture those billions merciless drug cartels fight (with a plethora of military-grade weapons) to establish the shrinking smuggling routes into the heart of America.

The end result is a happy American drug consumer. Currently, America is home to more than Disneyland, it provides somewhere between 75 to 80 percent of the world’s drug consumption. Something Walt would not be proud of.

As with any national epidemic a message of propaganda must circulate to reveal the hero and villain. In this case the American politician and main stream media outlets have chosen guns as the villain. By spinning the web that guns are the root and American gun manufactures supply 90 percent of the weaponry to Mexican cartels; the U.S. is hit with a double whammy- a consumer and blame for the never-ending violence.

The media got it halfway right, America is the largest consumer of drugs and the cartels wouldn’t be in business if there wasn’t a demand for narcotics, but the guns are not coming from America.

In fact, a new paper out (Spring 2010) from George Mason’s School of Public Policy dispels this myth once and for all.

According to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) only 17 percent of the guns recovered by Mexican authorities are traceable to the United States a far cry from the 90 percent perpetuated by the MSM. It is worth pointing out that the Mexican government does a good job photographing the drugs, money and weapons it seizes and releases them to the public.

Below is a recent seizure slideshow, (about a month old) near the Mexico/Arizona border and the pictures speak volumes about the arsenal drug cartels are using.

“The guns are from China, South America, Russia and the USA. However the firearms from the USA were sent via operation ‘Blue Lantern’ under the Clinton administration. If I recall correctly America gave Mexico about $6 billion worth of guns, ammo, night vision, grenades, and (my favorite) training,” said Marc Halcon a leading gun industry proprietor and federally-recognized advanced law-enforcement training expert.

“The rifles shown in the slideshow are from China (most likely) or eastern block nations. They have never been manufactured in the USA. The pistols ‘may’ have been manufactured in the USA, but I must point out that many countries make a clone of the same pistol so it is hard to say for sure,” he explained.

In Halcon’s opinion the Mexican government should be more cooperative with the BATF and U.S. officials. “As we pursue the true source of the firearms in question and since we apparently can’t stop the flow of illegals into our country; how are we expected to stop the flow of firearms without the assistance from the Mexican government?”

Mexico’s President lashes out at America

Last week Mexican President Calderon took a direct shot at the U.S. for providing the guns that fuel the drug war.

“The American weapons industry is a voracious and vicious industry they create. It’s clear to me that they create a conflict in a poor country in Africa just to sell weapons. In the same way they are making money on the situation in Mexico.” He goes on to say America has not changed its yearly budget in its own battle with drug consumption.

Upon closer look at this statement it appears Mexico’s president is continuing the government propaganda that America is providing the majority of the weapons the cartels are using- again a falsehood that is repeated until many believe it to be fact.

“To fully understand what he is saying you only need to listen to one sentence where he states ‘the budget for the war on drugs has not changed,’” Halcon explains. “Essentially he is asking for the U.S. to give Mexico (him) money. This is a typical third-world shakedown in my opinion.”

Halcon continues to add that “the U.S. government has supplied billions of dollars in firearms, ammunition, training, etc to the Mexico. The real issue facing Americans is that between 120 and 150 of the Mexican military troops defect to the dark side every month. When they leave they are taking their equipment, guns and training with them.”

So far under President Calderon’s watch the government has confiscated more than 70,000 weapons from the drug cartels.

Propaganda spoken by U.S politicians and main stream media

Chris Cox, a spokesman for the National Rifle Association, blames the main stream media and uninformed politicians in the U.S. for misrepresenting where Mexican drug cartel weapons originate. “Reporter after politician after news anchor just disregards the truth on this,” Cox contends. “The numbers are intentionally used to weaken the Second Amendment.”

American talking heads are not the only members spouting incorrect numbers. Auturo Sarukhan, the Mexican ambassador to the U.S., claims Mexico seizes about 2,000 guns a day from America. However that number adds up to 730,000 a year. The ambassador misses the real number by 700,000. The real number is 30,000 for all of 2007/08, according to the Mexican attorney general’s office.

Here is what the political leaders, federal agency heads and main stream media spokespeople are saying about the war next door. The following is a list of those who repeated that 90 percent of drug cartel guns come from America;

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton repeated it to reporters on a flight to Mexico City; CBS anchorman Bob Schieffer referred to the falsehood while interviewing President Obama; Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) said 90 percent of the guns are used to kill judges, police officers and mayors at a Senate hearing; William Hoover, assistant director for field operations of ATF, testified to Congress that “there is more than enough evidence to indicate that over 90 percent of the firearms that have either been recovered in, or interdicted in transport to Mexico, originated from various sources within the United States.”

Apparently the ATF did not send out an intra-agency memo articulating that the 90 percent of traced weapons from America and that the majority of the firearms seized are clearly not even made or sold in the United States.

“Not every weapon seized in Mexico has a serial number on it that would make it traceable, and the U.S. effort to trace weapons really only extends to weapons that have been in the U.S. market,” Matt Allen, special agent of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) reported.

Furthermore Mexican officials seized more than 30,000 guns in 2007/2008, but only submitted about 11,000 to ATF for tracing. Of the 6,000 of those traced, only 5,114 were traced to US sources. That number represents 90 percent of the 6,000 traced, but represents only 17 percent of all seizures, so again, the 90 percent number is supported by empirical evidence, but is not representative of the truth that only 5,115 of the 30,000 weapons seized were traced to US sources.” The true percentage of 17 percent does not present such a compelling argument for clamping down on American gun manufacturing as does the distorted 90 percent number does.

Some weapons, firearm dealers say, are legitimately shipped to Mexico, by Colt, from the United States. These sales are approved by the U.S. government for use by the Mexican military. Clearly these guns end up in Mexico and are not smuggled in across the river.

Firearm experts contend the remainder of the weapons that find their way into the ruthless cartels come from a variety of places

The black market in Mexico is a virtual arms variety store, with grenades from South Korea, AK-47s from China, and shoulder-fired rocket launchers from Spain, Israel and former Soviet bloc manufacturers.

Another large source is the Russian crime syndicates. In fact, Interpol claims Russian Mafia are actively trafficking drugs and arms into Mexico.

And don’t forget South America. The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) established a clandestine arms smuggling and drug trafficking partnership with Mexican cartels after Pablo Escobar’s demise left a vacuum of weapons and drug addiction.

According to a 2006 Amnesty International Report, China provided arms to countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America. Of these weapons Chinese assault firearms and Korean explosives have been recovered in Mexico’s war on cartels.

Another major contributor is the Mexican military itself as more than 150,000 soldiers have deserted to the cartels in the last six years, according to Mexican Congressman Robert Badillo. Most deserters take their uniforms and weapons with them, including the standard issue M-16 assault rifles.

The Mexican government reports that it has seized 2,239 grenades in the last two years, but the grenades and the rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs) confiscated are not available in U.S. gun shops. The grenades used in an attack on the U.S. Consulate in Monterrey and a TV station in January came from South Korea.

Hilary Clinton accepts responsibility for Americans

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, on a recent visit to Mexico, said that America’s inability to prevent weapons being smuggled across the border is causing the deaths of Mexican police officers, soldiers and civilians.

“I feel very strongly we have a co-responsibility,” Clinton told reporters on her Mexico City trip a day after the Obama administration implied it would send more money, technology and manpower to secure the border and assist Mexico battle the drug cartels.

“Our insatiable demand for illegal drugs fuels the drug trade,” she said. “Our inability to prevent weapons from being illegally smuggled across the border to arm these criminals causes the deaths of police officers, soldiers and civilians.”

Mexico appreciated Clinton’s admission of U.S. responsibility regarding the war on drugs.

“We want to address together the challenges that we are facing,” Foreign Minister for Mexico Patricia Espinosa said.

That being said, Mexico says it will never allow U.S. troops to operate inside the country and the fact that U.S. is deploying National Guard troops to the border is causing anxiety.

“It is seen as a very delicate issue,” said Espinosa.

Under former President Bill Clinton’s administration, an effort was also made to fight the drug cartels. It was called “Operation Blue Lantern.” In the mid 1990s, Clinton spent millions of dollars a year to curb the cartels.

In February of 1997, the Clinton Administration announced the Mexican government was a “full ally” in the war on drugs. In doing so Clinton’s Drug Czar, Army General Barry McCaffrey, described Mexican General Jesus Gutierrez Rebollo, who led the Mexican National Institute to Combat Drugs (INCD) as a “man of absolute unquestioned character.”

Shortly after McCaffrey’s announcement, Rebollo was arrested for taking bribes from one of the largest drug cartels in Mexico and he had been present at numerous secret meetings involving the White House, Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA).

The blame game continues in Mexico

Taking exception to President Calderon’s direct shot at the U.S. government and U.S. gun manufactures for promoting the drug war in Mexico is recently retired ICE agent John Sakelarides.

“In a transparent attempt to shift the blame from Mexico to the United States for cross border incursions to include the flow of drugs, weapons, humans and money, President Felipe Calderon is claiming the guns being used by the cartels are coming from the United States. As such, he is accusing the United States of interfering in Mexican internal affairs by accusing the U.S. is somehow allowing the cartels to send guns from the U.S. to Mexico arming the cartels.”

“Excuse me? Let me get this straight- President Calderon. Your countrymen are smuggling not only narcotics, but human beings into this country at an alarming rate, in violation of America’s territorial sovereignty, and your countrymen who run the cartels, are smuggling guns into your country, and somehow this is our fault? Your government, and those before yours, have repeatedly, knowingly, intentionally and maliciously, interfered in the internal affairs of the United States. So much so, Mexican citizens, both legal and illegal alike, who are not U.S. citizens are voting in American elections- violating U.S. laws.”

“You support the flow of illegal aliens and narcotics into the United States, either tacitly or openly. You deny us our sovereign right to control our borders and to enforce our laws, claiming that doing so is somehow racist. However, you certainly support the flow of American dollars into Mexico in the form or remittances. Please, have the decency to not lecture America about how to run our country given the fact that Mexico is now a defacto narco-state.”

“Perhaps this behavior is acceptable in Mexico. But this kind of anarchy will not be tolerated in America. Mexico is like the neighbor who complains about his neighbor’s children playing in their yard, while he allows his children to run amok in the neighborhood. You sir, are a hypocrite.”

The mounting problems the Mexican government and President Calderon are having in controlling the drug cartels, lawlessness, and escalating violence is forcing Mexico to look elsewhere for blame, but little of the blame rests with the U.S. government, but more directly with the insatiable appetite Americans seem to have for Mexico’s “recreational drugs.”

“Recreational drugs” are killing thousands (more than 28,000 in three years) of Mexicans, destroying the Mexican economy, and inhibiting the government’s ability to govern has forced President Calderon’s hand to explore the legalization of illegal drugs as a distinct possibly. This concept was immediately acclaimed by former Mexican President Vicente Fox as a good solution to the drug cartel lawlessness.
The collapse of the Mexican government would have disastrous effects on the US, including the unabated flow of drugs through Mexico to the US and an influx of illegal immigrants in numbers never even imagined.

As this reporter has previously written, what happens in Mexico matters.

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Slideshow: An example of weapons captured along the Arizona/Mexico border

House of Death in Juarez, prelude to a massive murder cover-up

Blinded by death, shrouded in secrecy and driven by recklessness could be used to describe the Mexican drug cartels – however, these terms are used to describe our own government agency, ICE.

It started with cold-blooded murder and it ended with at least a dozen lives ripped apart all with the knowledge and approval of the U.S. government, which included the slaying of a U.S. citizen as well as related murder that took place in El Paso. The story line reads like a fiction novel by James Patterson, but the sad reality ends with cover-up after cover-up.

This tale begins in the summer of 2003 with a drug cartel attorney being lured to a non-descript house in a middle-class neighborhood in Ciudad Juarez. He is led to believe he will receive phone numbers for a New York player to distribute some “candy” or layman’s terms – drugs.

In the company of friends, Fernando lets his guard down unaware that somewhere in this den of horror are two Chihuahua State Police waiting for their opportunity to take down a once trusted friend.

In the blink of an eye, Fernando’s life is turned upside down and he knows the jig is up. He, in typical drug trafficker fashion, begins begging for his life, but also in typical drug cartel fashion death is a certainty and it will only be minutes for Fernando to meet his maker.

Unbeknownst to anyone in the room, there is a U.S. snitch recording the entire murder scene and as the struggle unfolds it is the snitch who adds assistance to the police in subduing Fernando’s last breathes of life.

The brutality is not yet over, unsure if the lawyer is dead; they grab a shovel and bash in the victim’s head and neck. Ironically, the shovel that finishes off Fernando will be used to bury him in the backyard.

This little house of horrors would come to be known as the ‘House of Death’ and would bare witness to at least eleven more murders all under the watchful eyes of the U.S. government.

The snitch, Lalo, aka Guillermo Eduardo Ramirez-Peyro would continue under Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) watchful eyes and earn approximately $250,000 for partaking in a 12-person crime-spree that should have ended with just one.

This murderous rampage went on for more than six months and nearly cost the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) lives as well as immediate family members. How could an arm of the U.S. government let this go on for so long? How could they lend their name to grim reaper operations?

In the end, one DEA agent blew the whistle and ended the nonsense. Sandalio “Sandy” Gonzalez, special agent in charge of DEA in El Paso Texas.

Back in Juarez, the House of Death is beginning to get a name for itself. Lalo is there every step of the way. Lalo or Ramirez-Peyro begins his journey into crime like many other Mexican drug cartel members; Lalo was a federal highway patrolman for a year.

His natural progression leads him into the world of crime. Lalo begins his new life as a drug trafficker working on cocaine shipments from Colombia for the Medellin cartel. It is during this time the Mexican drug cartels are on the rise. The Americans were successful in bringing down the world’s most famous Colombian drug kingpin, Pablo Escobar.

It is now when three Mexican cartels begin the Federation, Juarez, Tijuana and the Gulf all begin their push to dominate the drug business. If you’re wondering why Mexico is the next big drug capital, more than 80 percent of the world’s drug supply is consumed by a very hungry U.S. customer.

Lalo begins his rise in the drug business and takes note of the high rate of mysterious disappearances of coworkers. Lopping off of heads, suffocation and ice picking are on the rise south of the border and Lalo wants an out. He reads a newspaper advertisement in which the U.S. is looking for informants.

He meets his eventual handler, Raul Bencomo, a U.S. Customs agent and Lalo, informant 913 begins his perceived-noble career as an informant. In the grand scheme of things Lalo is just a number, one that would result in U.S. participation in murder and a string of cover-ups.

The war on drugs is in full swing and the government and police are not winning. The U.S. DEA office launches a joint task force named “Operation Sky High.” The jest of the operation is to work with Mexican counterparts to bring down the drug cartels with shared information.

“We (DEA) do our best to work with informants in a legal way,” said Gonzalez. “It’s hard top fight a war on a substance which is exactly what the U.S. Government has claimed to do dating back to 1973.”

In his typical matter of fact manner, Gonzalez explains fighting wars is for the military. He also points out that law enforcement’s job is to apprehend criminal elements within society’s underworld.

One of the targets is Lalo’s boss, Heriberto Santillan-Tabares who runs the Juarez cartel activities. As an informant Lalo provides good information to his handlers. The pieces are coming together and an architectural case is beginning to unfold.

Then Lalo gets greedy and is popped by Border Patrol in New Mexico with 100 pounds of marijuana. He is initially deactivated by the DEA but his ICE handlers think he is too valuable to let go and they give him a second chance.

This is a point of contention with Gonzalez. “The DEA made the right call in letting Lalo go. It was ICE’s management mistake to keep him on the payroll.”

After a night of drinking with his boss, Santillan, Lalo learns of an execution taking place the next day. This gives the informant some pause and his paranoia leads him to believe he will be the victim.

A phone call to his handlers, yields the first acknowledged murder, it would not be Lalo, but Santillan’s childhood friend-turned-attorney.

ICE receives a full accounting of the slaying two days later and learns of Lalo’s participation. However, after U.S. Attorney Johnny Sutton’s office and El Paso ICE agents advised their Washington D.C. and Mexico City counterparts, Lalo is given the green light to continue carrying on his double-agent status.

After this meeting Lalo is ordered to not wear the wire for ICE.

Once the DEA in Juarez learns of the murder they begin legwork to find the body and recommend taking down Santillan as soon as possible. ICE blows off a meeting with the Juarez DEA and continue full steam ahead.

The murders continue through the fall into the winter. It is here that Lalo understands the term his boss refers to as ‘carne asada’- it translates into torture and execution. ICE decides to wire tap Lalo and Santillan’s phones leaving the U.S. agencies open to allegations as co-conspirators in murder.

This continues to be the norm for the next days and weeks to come. Lalo claims he is told about each and every carne asada that takes place at the House of Death. He also claims to inform his handlers in ICE.

The drug cartels maintain their power through the use of violence and brutality. Their wealth increases on a daily basis and their yearly net worth is said to be in the $10 billion range.

During the last of the murders at the House of Death, Santillan learns an address of a man he believes has a large stash of dope living in Juarez. Santillan flies off the handle when he finds the exact address and plans his attack. However, it is by pure happenstance they found out about the DEA agent, Homer McBrayer and his family.

Luckily, McBrayer is called by his frantic wife. He returns home and plans his escape immediately. With his family tucked inside the car, McBrayer attempts to flee from Mexico.

Unfortunately for ICE the car is pulled over by a marked Juarez police car, which leads to Santillan calling Lalo to check on the identity of the occupants in the car were. Once, Lalo checks with his ICE handlers and learns that this death squad has a DEA agent in their sight, that’s when ICE notifies DEA that its personnel is at risk in Juarez. DEA then evacuates their personnel from Juarez.

This is a lesson learned by the bad guys after the infamous murder of DEA Agent Kiki Camerena in the 1980s is don’t kill DEA agents, which is why they let them go.

Another ICE agent explains that south of the border; Mexicans live by the “Plata o Plomo” rule, “silver wins over lead.”

This ICE agent, who wished to remain anonymous, says “ICE is so screwed up that the running joke is they would probably give an immigrant visa to Osama Bin Laden.”

Looking back at the mistakes that plagued the House of Death case, ICE has a lot of explaining to do, yet to this day an investigation into the alleged wrongdoings misdoings of the U.S. government have yet to see the light of day, according to a source within ICE.

At this point it’s game over and the cover-up begins.

Coming part two

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Murder, kidnapping and drug activities are common place south of the border

While many so-called media entities cover up the fact that ‘what happens in Mexico, stays in Mexico, violence along the southern borders continues to escalate.

Tijuana in particular has seen kidnapping and murder rates soar. It is not uncommon to see tortured and murdered victims hanging from major roadways near military installations. “They are putting the bodies in these locations for a reason. It’s to tell the Mexican government that they do not control the country,” said a resident of Tijuana.

In a recent trip to the wild, wild south, evidence of violence is everywhere. “You are not safe at five star hotels, five star restaurants or behind the wheel of a police vehicle,” explained a source that monitors the escalating violence.

There is also evidence violence is creeping across the U.S./Mexico border. Many Mexican nationals are moving across the border into San Diego to escape the constant barrage of kidnappings. By doing so it is alleged that cartel members are following them across the border,snatching victims on U.S. soil and bringing them back to Mexico.

The number of kidnappings taking place on U.S. soil in San Diego county is officially low. Sources contend many kidnappings in San Diego County remain relatively low because families who must pay ransoms are hesitant to report the crime, fearing the kidnap victim will be murdered.

Also, many reports in the U.S. often discount a crime if they feel it is related to the Mexican drug cartels.

However in a study from the Mexican Council for Law and Human Rights claims 90 percent of Mexicans who have been the target of kidnappings have no link to narco-traffic or other criminal activities.

The study showed that 22,875 citizens have disappeared at the hands of organized crime in the past three years. It also stated that 7,433 have been victims of criminal gangs.

Of these victims, 75 percent were males, 15 percent were minors and 10 percent were females. The criminal activity generally increases with the presence of narco-terrorist groups like La Familia, Los Zetas, Los Pelones and La Linea.

Readers of the study in Mexico who read the full report stated the claim of 90 percent of the crimes having nothing to do with organized cartels were flat out lies by the Mexican Council for Law and Human Rights.

Meanwhile, back in Tijuana long-time law enforcement authorities claim there are more than two kidnappings per day. “It has become a legitimate business. Money is so hard to come by that many turn to crime,” authorities said. “It is entrenched in young people’s minds as a way to get out of poverty; however it often results in death.”

Murder and kidnappings have become so commonplace in Tijuana that Friday’s murder rate of four becomes just a day in the life. What most American’s will find disturbing is the brutality of the murders.

Bodies are thrown in the street to make a statement. And when they are recovered, victims routinely have no fingernails, show signs of torture and have no heads.

With a yearly murder rate that eclipses the Iraq and Afghanistan wars combined eight year total of deaths, one questions if we are fighting the right war.

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