Mexican Authorities Arrest Important Cartel Leaders
Forum -MSK reported on June 26 that The Mexican Federal Police arrested the alleged boss of the cartel called “The Zetas”. He is accused of extortion, drug trafficking, and homicide.
Albert González Peña, also known as “’El Tigre”, (The Tiger) was arrested in Xelapa, Veracruz. It is from this place that the Zetas distributed drugs throughout Mexico. Likewise, González Peña used to extort owners of bars and discothèques and then murder them after taking their money.
“The Zetas” are drug gangs that began their operations as private armies of the Gulf Cartel, one of the largest in Mexico. Later on they became independent and heavily involved in drug trafficking up to the point of turning against their former bosses, the Gulf Cartel itself.
Another Zeta member, Edgar Huerta, admitted last week having been responsible for the murder of 600 immigrants from Central America. The reason for that killing was the belief that these immigrants might have belonged to the Gulf Cartel, which competes with the Zetas for territorial control.
“The Zetas” is a group composed by former members of the military and the police, which were expelled from the forces for violating the law. The Zetas control drug trafficking from Mexico to the U.S border.
Some believe “The Zetas” might have a connection to radical Islamic groups as well. Earlier this year, Secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, suggested in a congressional hearing the possibility of cooperation between Al Qaeda and “The Zetas.”
The arrest of “The Zetas” leader is considered to be a great success for the Mexican authorities which days earlier arrested Jose de Jesus “El Chango” Mendez, the main leader of the “La Familia” Cartel.
“La Familia” cartel is a very violent drug cartel in the Mexican state of Michoacan. The cartel introduces large quantities of drugs into the United States. The group also appeals to religious quotes to justify their criminal action. “La Familia” is responsible for much of the violence that has left more than 35,000 people dead in Mexico.
These different drug cartels are reportedly operating in dozens of cities and towns in the United States. This means that they have expanded well beyond the Mexican-U.S borders according to Roberta Jacobson, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Canada, Mexico and NAFTA issues.
Central American Countries Join Forces to Fight Drug Trafficking
Leaders of Central American countries came together in Guatemala City on June 22 and 23rd to discuss the issue of drug trafficking in the region.
Central America is considered to be one of the most violent regions in the world besides those that are in a state of war. Furthermore, state authority is threatened by the presence of drug cartels and gangs.
The meeting is the first time since 1856 that Central American nations came together. The event was also attended by Mexican president Felipe Calderon and U.S Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and the Spanish foreign minister Trinidad Jimenez.
At the end of the summit pledges for financial assistance from the U.S and development banks approached $2 billion dollars.
However, doubts remain about whether leaders are prepared to implement the reforms needed to take on organized crime groups that often have more resources than the weak states they terrorize.
Analysts agree that to implement such a program will be difficult for seven countries that have weak institutions, scarce resources, high corruption and widespread poverty.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called on Central American countries to assume their “shared responsibility” in fighting drug traffickers. She announced that the administration would increase assistance to the region by $40 million to $300 million this year, still a much smaller amount than the billion dollar sums guaranteed to Mexico and Colombia in the past decade.
Central America is becoming an alternative base of operation for those drug cartels that are being uprooted from Mexico.
Chavez Admitted Having Cancer but Future Still Uncertain
Chavez admitted he had surgery in Cuba due to the discovery of cancerous cells in his body.
A week earlier The Nuevo Herald reported, citing anonymous U.S intelligence sources, that Hugo Chavez’s condition was critical. Lack of information on his health condition has led to speculations as to how long will live and raises uncertainty as to the political future of the country.On June 29th the New York Times reported that Chavez’ older brother Adan Chavez, a former Ambassador to Cuba and the current governor of the State of Barinas, might be a possible successor for Hugo Chavez.
In recent days Adan Chavez stated that “it would be unforgivable to limit ourselves to only electoral or other methods of struggle”. Adan is believed to hold radical views and is a big promoter of the Bolivarian revolution.
According to article 238 of the 1999 Venezuelan constitution, which was promoted by Chavez himself, the vice-president “should not have any family or blood ties to the president”. Adan Chavez, who is not the current Vice-President, cannot be his automatic successor. He will have to run in the 2012 presidential election. However, Chavez has a history of violating the Bolivarian constitution as well as other laws.
Colombian Government Backs Military Officers as Ecuadorian Court Seeks to Try Them
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos backed six military and police officers accused of murder by an Ecuadorian court. According to the court, the murders occurred during a military operation by Colombia against the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) in March, 2008. In that operation Raul Reyes, the second in command for the guerilla group, was killed.
Santos served then as Defense Minister. He publicly stated that he assumed full responsibility for the operation since he himself authorized it.
These officers sought by Ecuadorian justice include Oscar Naranjo, current chief of Police, Freddy Padilla, the former commander of the military forces, Mario Montoya, the former commander of the army, Guillermo Barrera, the former commander of the Navy; and ; Jorge Ballesteros, the former commander of the Air Force.
Santos supported the operation and a Colombian government communiqué stated that “The Colombian state, subjected to humanitarian international law, acted against a FARC camp from where terrorist actions were carried out against Colombians. Therefore, such military operations should be regarded as an act of the State against international terrorists”
The FARC has had a presence in Ecuador for some time. According to Jorge Briceno (“Mono” Jojoy), a high ranking commander in the FARC, Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa received financial support from the FARC during his last electoral campaign.
Ecuador broke diplomatic relations with Colombia after the operation. However, Presidents Santos and Correa reestablished those relations last November.
New Peruvian President Ollanta Humala Calls for National Unity Government
Shortly after being elected President of Peru Ollanta Humala called for a government of national unity.
According to Humala, the idea is to unify Peru and to make sure that the Peruvian state has a presence all over the territory, particularly in those areas where poverty and misery prevail.
He called for more investment and for an open market economy. However, key advisers to Humala like Felix Jimenez have stated taxes will be imposed on foreign companies.
Humala called to eliminate corruption and bribery and also called for the unity of Latin American nations.
Humala ran for the presidential election in 2006 with the support of Hugo Chavez. After that Chavez helped Humala incite rebellions in certain areas of Peru. During the 2011 campaign Humala distanced himself from Chavez.
His presidency is an enigma but some observers fear Humala will promote extreme nationalism, anti-Americanism and an alliance with Chavez.
THE AMERICAS REPORT
NANCY MENGES and
LUIS FLEISCHMAN, Editors
The Americas Report is the featured product of the Center for Security Policy‘s Menges Hemispheric Security Project. It features in-depth, original articles on subjects not regularly covered by the American press.
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