More Lawlessness in Juarez: November, 2008

By Woodman · Nov 28, 2008 · Updated Jan 21, 2010 ·
  1. Woodman
    Mexican hitmen finish off victim during surgery in Ciudad Juarez,21985,24599473-663,00.html

    November 04, 2008 08:18am
    HITMEN stormed an operating theatre in a clinic in north Mexico to finish off a man who had been shot in the street.
    The 25-year-old victim had been shot overnight on Sunday near the Red Cross in the border city of Ciudad Juarez, a police official said.
    "When the doctor and nurses were treating him in one of the operating theatres, two masked men carrying heavy weapons arrived and ordered the staff to immediately leave before shooting him three times,'' the official said.
    The Red Cross in violent Ciudad Juarez, across from El Paso, Texas, suspended its activities for one day two months ago due to threats of assassins against patients.
    Three men, including a local police chief, died in separate attacks in other towns in the same northern Chihuahua state in the past 24 hours, police said.
    Almost 4000 people have died this year in gangland-style killings across Mexico, particularly in areas where drug traffickers are fighting for control of key routes into the United States.
    A government crackdown launched nearly two years ago, including the deployment of some 36,000 soldiers, has so far failed to stop the bloodshed.


    El Diario journalist slain in hail of bullets at home

    [link removed. website dead]

    By Daniel Borunda / El Paso Times
    Posted:*11/14/2008 12:00:00 AM MST

    A crime reporter for the Diario de Juárez newspaper was shot and killed Thursday morning, a slaying that shocked Juarenses and elicited strong reactions from journalism groups and others.
    An unknown gunman shot Armando Rodríguez, 40, multiple times as he sat in his white company-issued car outside his Juárez home getting ready take his daughter to school, police and Rodríguez's colleagues said.
    Rodríguez's daughter was not hurt. She was reportedly in the car when the 10 rounds were fired.
    The slaying of Rodríguez was condemned internationally and cited as an example that the violence in Juárez has grown out of control. Rodríguez is the first reporter known to have been killed in Juárez this year.
    Rodríguez's death was "an attack on the freedom of expression," said Adrian Ventura Lares, president of the Juárez Society of Journalists and Communicators. Killers "cut a pen whose objective was to inform residents on the lamentable phenomenon of insecurity in Ciudad Juárez."
    More than 1,200 people have been slain in the Juárez area this year due in part to a war among drug cartels. Rodríguez was one of at least three homicides Thursday that included police inspector Miguel Carlos Herrera Gonzalez, who was fatally shot soon after his shift ended in the morning. Herrera is the fourth law-enforcement officer killed this week.
    "I am the first to recognize that this situation is intolerable," Chihuahua state Attorney General Patricia Gonzalez said in a statement vowing to find those responsible for Rodríguez's death.
    Rodríguez's slaying came a week after a severed head was left at the foot of the paperboy statue in Juárez's Plaza of the Journalist.
    The Mexican attorney general's office said the case has been handed over to a federal task force investigating crimes against journalists.
    On Jan. 29, Rodríguez received death threats on his cell phone from a long-distance number in Sonora. Rodríguez was transferred to El Diario's newspaper in El Paso as a precaution, but months later he returned to work in Juárez, federal officials said.
    Mexico is considered the deadliest country in the Americas for reporters. The Committee to Protect Journalists in New York stated that 24 journalists, including Rodríguez, have been killed in Mexico since 2000. An additional seven are missing.


    Mexico: Seven Bodies Found in Juárez

    Published: November 26, 2008
    Seven bodies were dumped before dawn Tuesday at a school soccer field in the Mexican border city of Juárez. Neighbors found them along a fence, with three banners allegedly signed by a Mexican drug gang. Officials did not provide details about the messages. The local prosecutor’s office said they had no suspects and were still trying to identify the victims.


    Officials from Sun Bowl teams won't visit Juárez
    By John Erfort / El Paso Times
    Posted:*11/27/2008 12:00:00 AM MST

    EL PASO -- The deadly violence that has taken a nasty hold on Juárez has caused Sun Bowl officials to cancel a long-standing tradition of taking representatives from teams in the annual classic to visit that city.
    And officials say the practice may never resume.
    "We just think it's not safe" to travel to Juárez, said Sun Bowl President John Folmer. "We used to take them over for bullfights, but É we're still going to do everything we can to help them experience the culture.
    "But what a tremendous disappointment it would be if something happened to one of our guests," he said.
    Furthermore, a high-profile visit could present an inviting target across the border.
    "For those people, it might be a great venue for them to try to make a point, and we're not going to take a risk like that," Folmer said. "We're going to do something on this side that's close, and they'll feel like they're in Mexico anyway."
    Sun Bowl media relations director Trenten Hilburn said the players from the teams hadn't made the trip to Juárez anyway in more than seven or eight years.
    In recent seasons, only the teams' official traveling parties have been taken to dinner and a show in Juárez. That show will take place this year at the Chamizal, and will include the usual performers and dancers from Juárez.
    "As far as the players, they have not gone over since 1999 or 2000," he said. "And that may have been the last time they (went to see) the bullfights."
    However, the tradition of having either players or representatives of Sun Bowl teams make a trip to Mexico dates back at least 50 years, Hilburn said.
    Juárez has been in the grip of a drug cartel war that has been responsible for many of the city's 1,300 homicides since January. Tourism-related business owners have reported a decline in tourism of about 80 percent and are struggling to continue to operate. Officials say that tourists are not targets of the violence and that the city is still safe to visit.


    El Paso victims: Juárez war spills over

    El Paso Times Staff
    Posted:*11/26/2008 12:00:00 AM MST

    [link removed. website dead]

    It can no longer be said that the drug-cartel violence in Juárez has little or no physical effect on El Paso. The shooting of two El Paso health-care professionals, who were driving in a Juárez funeral procession Saturday, shows the drug cartels will murder anyone they choose.
    Juárez officials determined this was a targeted killing since one of the victims, Ruth Sagredo Velasco, was in Juárez to attend her sister's funeral. The sister, Cinthia Judith Sagredo Escobedo, had been shot to death Thursday, according to the Norte de Ciudad Juárez newspaper.
    Velasco was a nurse practitioner. Killed with her was Roberto Martinez, a physician's assistant. Both were employed in the neurosurgery department at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center.
    Several El Paso residents have been among the staggering number -- now more than 1,300 -- persons murdered in Juárez this year. Many of the deaths have been linked to the bloody battle for drug-traffic control between the Sinaloa and Juárez cartels.
    It's just plain brazen what goes on in Juárez.
    In this case, the Juárez newspaper reported that two late-model trucks, with several men inside, drove alongside the victims' vehicle and opened fire with automatic weapons. Officials found at least 20 shell casings.
    The massive violence has, indeed, spilled across the border as several Paso citizens have been among those shot to death, often in public places and often in broad daylight.


    El Pasoans react to deaths of Texas Tech employees in Juarez
    Posted: Nov 24, 2008 08:22 AM

    EL PASO, Texas -- Americans are upset and demanding answers after two Texas Tech employees were gunned down in Juarez on Saturday.
    Ruth Velasco-Sagredo's home was empty Sunday. A flower basket with roses was delivered to her doorstep with a note that said, "To Miss Sagredo and her family."
    But her family appeared to be a target of the ongoing violence in Juarez.
    Our news partners at Channel 44 in Juarez said Sagredo's father, Francisco Sagredo Villareal, was gunned down by men in Mexican military uniforms on Oct. 3.
    He was right outside the hotel he owned, San Nicolas, when he was shot.
    Chihuahua state police told Channel 44 it happened just a few days after he hung a sign outside his hotel business that said, "Forbidden to dump bodies or trash."
    Authorities also said that Ruth Sagredo's sister, Cynthia Sagredo Escobedo, was gunned down Thursday outside her home next to the hotel.
    After attending her sister's funeral, Sagredo and a co-worker -- Roberto Martinez, a U.S. Military veteran -- were shot to death Saturday afternoon near Cuatro Siglos and Hermanos Escobar streets.
    Martinez and Sagredo were found dead in a Kia Amanti that had New Mexico plates. Chihuahua state police said 20 bullet casings were found near the car. Investigators determined Martinez was driving the car and Velasco was his passenger.
    A spokeswoman at Thomason Hospital said both victims worked for Texas Tech out of Thomason Hospital. Sagredo was a nurse practitioner and Martinez was a physician's assistant. Police estimated Martinez's age as being between 55 and 60 years and that of Velasco as being in between 35 and 40 years.
    One of Sagredo's neighbors said the violence needs to stop. "To me, I feel very sorry for everybody from Juarez because you see in the news, everybody keeps fighting and running back and forth. They're killing in the house, in the stores, in the businesses. They take their money," said Lupe Salcido.
    El Diario de Juarez reports another woman and a child were also in the vehicle during the incident but were not hurt.



    [link removed. website dead]

    Nov 24, 2008 at 9:41 PM MST
    Story Updated: Nov 24, 2008 at 9:41 PM MST
    Monday, November 24, 2008- New numbers show the number of people crossing into Juarez has dropped by the thousands.* The numbers show tens of thousands of El Pasoans*didn't cross the border last month, compared to how many did a year ago.

    This, as the death toll blamed on drug violence in Juarez has surged to around 1,300*murders just this year.
    At the Zaragosa bridge about 248,000 cars crossed the border last month.* That number is down from almost 270,000 cars the same time last year.


    Juarez man gunned down outside downtown billiard bar
    Posted: Nov 22, 2008 12:13 PM
    Updated: Nov 25, 2008 07:49 AM

    JUAREZ -- Homicide investigators are searching for the group or people*responsible*for gunning down a man outside a popular bar near the Downtown area.
    Rodolfo Humberto Martha Jiménez, 27, was found dead by police shortly after two Friday afternoon at Pocket's Billiard bar.
    The bar is located near the intersection of Palacio de Mitla*and Avenida de las Torres.
    Investigators found more than 16 bullet casings from two different types of firearms*at the scene. Jiménez had multiple gunshot wounds throughout his body.
    Police did not reveal if the shooting was related to an ongoing turf war between rival drug cartels.


    Mexico Security Memo: Nov. 24, 2008

    Border Violence and Threats to Schools

    Drug-related violence in Mexico continued this past week in all the usual hotspots. In Tijuana, Baja California state, at least nine people were killed over two days, despite the recent arrival of army reinforcements. In Culiacan, Sinaloa state, an ambush on a police convoy left five officers dead and two wounded. And in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua state, some 16 people were killed over a 24-hour period, including two U.S. residents who were shot to death while traveling in the funeral procession of a friend who had been shot several days before.
    Ciudad Juarez was also the scene of threats and extortion attempts against school teachers in the past week. Telephone messages and banners outside the schools warned teachers that their students would be harmed if the teachers did not pay protection money to organized crime groups. In response, police assigned some 300 police cadets to increase security at the city’s 940 school buildings. It is unclear whether the threats were serious. Such threats are not at all common in Mexico. The unfortunate reality is that, if a criminal group in Juarez intends to extort payment from teachers, there is little the authorities can do to stop them.
    Arson and Threats to Businesses
    An e-mail began circulating in Mexico this past week warning businesses to stop cooperating with the Juarez cartel. The e-mail, signed by the Sinaloa cartel, named 26 businesses in Chihuahua state that it accused of performing such services as money-laundering for the Juarez cartel. Among the businesses listed are night clubs, restaurants, fitness centers and even U.S.-owned maquiladoras. The e-mail emerged around Nov. 13, about the same time several night clubs and restaurants in Chihuahua City — including some named in the e-mail — burned down in what authorities suspect were arson-related fires.
    Threats conveyed by e-mail and other Internet forums have become a common element of the Mexican drug war. In most cases, including this one, it is nearly impossible to confirm where the threats originated and whether they are hoaxes. Even when the threats are legitimate, the power of intimidation often makes it unnecessary to actually resort to violence. What is particularly worrisome about this latest e-mail, however, is the fact that several of the restaurants listed in the e-mail were actually burned down, suggesting that the author of the message should be taken ¬seriously. It is also noteworthy that the threat includes American maquiladoras, which normally are not well-known partners of drug traffickers. Of course, there is no evidence that the companies named in the email actually launder money for a drug trafficking organization. But the fact that the email’s author believes they do is enough to cause concern about further attacks.
    Drug Czar Arrest
    Mexican federal authorities announced this past week the arrest of former federal drug czar Noe Ramirez Mandujano on charges that he received bribes from drug traffickers. According to one witness, Ramirez received monthly payments of $450,000 from the Beltran Leyva organization in exchange for information on investigations and upcoming operations. Ramirez presumably also used his position in the federal attorney general’s office (PGR) to shift law enforcement attention away from the Beltran Leyva organization and onto the cartel’s rivals. His arrest came the same week that the director of Interpol in Mexico was arrested on corruption charges.
    It is no secret that Mexico’s rampant corruption presents a serious challenge to its war against drug cartels, and these arrests are a good reminder of just how high up the cartels can reach. According to media reports, Ramirez began his relationship with the Beltran Leyva organization shortly after he took office and met at least twice in person with a representative of the cartel. On one occasion, he also met with two former officials of the PGR’s anti-organized crime unit (SIEDO) who were among some 30 officials arrested in October. So far, investigators have uncovered several federal corruption networks associated with the Beltran Leyva organization, for which the cartel was paying more than $700,000 per month.
    Since 2007, President Felipe Calderon has taken steps to combat corruption, including polygraphs for incoming officials, investigations of police officials and the firing of a large number of federal law enforcement commanders. However, the fact that 18 months later much of the country’s elite counternarcotics group — including the drug czar — was in fact working for a drug cartel demonstrates how difficult the corruption problem is. In the wake of Ramirez’s arrest, the new SIEDO director has removed all printers from the offices and banned the use of removable file-storing media. Calderon ordered his administration to expand anti-corruption investigations outside the federal law enforcement community and into the federal judicial system and state and local governments. As this occurs, more arrests can be expected and more infiltration operations will likely be disrupted, but Mexico is a long way from solving its corruption problem.

    Nov. 17
    • A fragmentation grenade thrown by two men detonated at the offices of a newspaper in Culiacan, Sinaloa state, causing light damage but no injuries.
    Nov. 18
    • Three police officers were shot to death by a group of armed men who ambushed them along a highway in Tejupilco, Mexico state.
    • A joint force composed of some 500 Mexican navy, army and federal police forces arrived in Tijuana, Baja California state, to assume public safety duties while local police forces are investigated for links to organized crime and undergo anti-corruption training courses.
    • The mayor of Ocampo, Durango state, was unharmed when several armed men opened fire on him and his companions. Two city officials were wounded in the attack.
    Nov. 19
    • An Interpol official in France announced that a special team would be sent to Mexico to investigate allegations that the agency’s director in that country was cooperating with drug traffickers.
    • Armed men in Culiacan, Sinaloa state, ambushed a convoy of police assigned to a special counternarcotics unit, killing five officers and wounding two.
    • Five people were reported killed in Chihuahua state, including the high-ranking supervisor of prison guards, who was shot to death while driving in Ciudad Juarez.
    • Police in Playas de Rosarito, Baja California state, found six bags containing the body parts of at least five people. The bodies had been cut into small pieces and authorities were not sure how many victims were involved.
    • Four bodies were found under a bridge near Navolato, Sinaloa state, with gunshot wounds.
    • An unsigned banner appeared in Lazaro Cardenas, Michoacan state, accusing military officials there of cooperating with drug traffickers.
    Nov. 20
    • A firefight between police and suspected drug gang members north of Monterrey, Nuevo Leon state, led to a high-speed pursuit and several other firefights as the suspects attempted to evade capture. Authorities did not report any arrests or injuries.
    • Police in Nogales, Sonora state, reported finding two tunnels running under the U.S. border that they believe were used by drug traffickers.
    Nov. 21
    • Customs officials at the Mexico City airport seized some 540 pounds of pseudoephedrine from a package that had been shipped from Calcutta, India.
    • A Cessna 182 carrying 38 packets of marijuana crashed in Topia, Durango state, killing at least one passenger. It is unclear where the flight had originated and where it was heading.
    • The bodies of three people, including a police officer, were found in Villagran, Guanajuato state.
    Nov. 23
    • The unidentified bodies of three men and one woman were found in Durango, Durango state, with signs of torture.
    • Police in Tijuana, Baja California, reported discovering at least nine bodies during a 24-hour period. Two of the bodies had been beheaded.


    Growing fear in Juarez after reports of teacher extortion attempts


    There's panic at schools in the Mexican border city Juarez after some teachers were targets of extortion attempts.
    The warning: Students are in danger unless the teachers pay protection money.
    The warnings come by phone and on banners near school yards. The message: Hand over Christmas bonuses or students will be harmed.
    It's created a lot of panic according to one teacher. She did not want us to show her face on camera. Panic is behind a report that masked men had entered her school and demanded money at gunpoint. Teachers and parents tell us it's a rumor.
    Nobody has come here - yet says one parent who also did not want us to show her face. She volunteers daily at her children's school.
    These days in Juarez, it's hard to separate reality from rumor. The growing body count has led to growing fears and has some parents worried about bringing their children to school.
    The mayor of Juarez posted police outside schools to calm fears. But several schools decided to start their Christmas vacations early.
    More than 1,200 people have been killed in drug-related violence in Juarez so far this year.


    Mexican schoolteachers victims of extortion racket

    Gangs threatening teachers to hand over Christmas bonuses or see harm done to their families or students

    Elementary schoolteachers are the latest victims of an exploding extortion racket in the border city of Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, as criminal gangs threaten educators to either hand over their coming Christmas bonuses or see harm done to their families or students, teachers' groups say.
    With Monday a school holiday and news of the threats spreading in the media, on the internet and by word of mouth during the long weekend, there were fears that an increasing number of parents would keep their children at home, forcing additional schools to close.
    At least two schools shut down early Friday for a lack of students.
    The extortion against teachers was the latest escalation of the violence and fear that has taken over the city across from El Paso, Texas.
    Full-page ads have been taken out in local papers by a wide coalition of business, religious, political and social groups asking Mexican president Felipe Calderón for more help. The federal government has already sent thousands of federal police and soldiers, but crime has only gotten worse.
    Even amid the chaos of drug cartel violence, street crime and protection rackets, the extortion of schoolteachers - highly respected in Mexican society but often poorly paid - was unprecedented.
    "There are a lot of things that are happening for the first time in Juárez," said Oscar Maynez, a professor at the Autonomous University of Ciudad Juárez who is also a former forensics investigator. "First time teachers have been extorted like this, the first time businesses have been burned to the ground for not paying protection money. All types of crimes are exploding."
    An estimated 1,400 people have been killed in drug-related violence in Juárez this year.
    Maynez said the threats against teachers are real and not rumours, as officials first characterised them.
    "I know a teacher in this situation who is worried he will have to give up half of his Christmas bonus and who says other teachers are very worried, too," said Maynez.
    Monday was a holiday and officials were not available for comment. But a Chihuahua state education official, Guillermo Narro, told teachers last week that their concerns would be addressed.
    "They came to express their concerns about insecurity," he told reporters afterward. "Some teachers told us that they had been threatened by telephone, that they had received messages asking them for money, that this is extortion or an attempt at extortion, and at the same time some of these messages made reference to their students."
    Narro told the teachers to continue giving classes and leave it to the local and state governments to investigate the threats and seek security solutions. He said the city government had promised to install up to 1,000 "panic buttons" like those used at banks to discreetly signal trouble, according to media reports.
    The modus operandi of the extortion racket was similar in many schools, according to Alfredo Quijano, editor of the Norte newspaper, which first reported on the phenomenon two weeks ago.
    "At the public schools, various men show up at the time school is about to start or just after it ends because that's when the teachers have their daily meetings," Quijano said. "Some of the men enter the school and others stay outside."
    Once all the teachers are together, "the men threaten them at gunpoint to hand over their wallets and their purses; they take personal documents with the teachers' names and addresses, and they tell them that they will return on the day that the teachers receive their bonuses," he said.
    Called an aguinaldo in Mexico, the Christmas bonuses are far more than a few extra pesos for holiday shopping. For teachers, whose union negotiates such payments with the federal government that employs them, it could amount to a month or more of salary.
    Depending on a teacher's level, seniority and other factors, the amount could range from $1,500 to $3,000 or more. The bonuses are given via check or direct deposit in the last week of November and the first week of December, depending on the school zone, and finding out that date for any given school would not be hard.


    Journalist flees Ciudad Juárez following death threats
    New York, November 20, 2008

    he Committee to Protect Journalists called on Mexican authorities today to protect journalists in the border town of Ciudad Juárez after one journalist was forced to flee and another was murdered.*

    Mexican journalist Jorge Luis Aguirre was forced to flee his home in Ciudad Juárez following a death threat on the day another crime reporter was gunned down, the journalist told CPJ.
    On the afternoon of November 13, Aguirre, director of the political and crime news Web site La Polaka, was walking to the funeral for his colleague Armando Rodríguez, who was shot to death earlier that day, when he received an anonymous call to his cellular phone warning him that he was "next in line," he said. According to Mexican press reports, Aguirre immediately left the city with his family for El Paso, Texas. The reporter told CPJ that he has continued to receive death threats via e-mail since leaving Mexico. One of the messages, reviewed by CPJ, warns Aguirre that he is the next target and that he will be tracked down. Aguirre remains in the United States, where he has requested political asylum.
    "At this of all times, people in Ciudad Juárez should be able to be informed about what crime is doing to their city and their lives," said CPJ's Senior Americas Program Coordinator Carlos Lauría. "Local and federal authorities must do everything in their power to ensure that all journalists in Ciudad Juárez can continue working without fear of reprisal."
    Since Rodríguez, a 40-year-old crime reporter for El Diario, was gunned down outside his home, fearful crime reporters in Ciudad Juárez have begun wearing bulletproof vests as a precautionary measure, reported the local daily El Diario. According to the daily, the vests are marked with the word "press." Authorities have not arrested anyone in connection to Rodríguez's killing.
    More than 1,000 people have been killed in drug-related crimes in Ciudad Juárez, a border city across from El Paso, this year, according to international and local news reports. Local reporters said police officers, doctors, lawyers, and drug kingpins have been executed this year. On November 6, unidentified individuals left a decapitated head in the city's Journalists' Square, according to local news reports.
    Powerful drug cartels and escalating violence associated with criminal groups have made Mexico one of the deadliest countries for reporters worldwide. Since 2000, 24 journalists have been killed, at least seven in direct reprisal for their work. In addition, seven journalists have disappeared since 2005.

    Share This Article


To make a comment simply sign up and become a member!