sunset from behind the wire

sunset from behind the wire

Thursday, August 22, 2013

The Mexican Drug War - Updated (Part Two)

In the first part of this short series, we discussed why efforts being undertaken by the Mexican government won't have any lasting impact, and why the Americans don't care.

Presidente Enrique Peña Nieto
The ruling PRI political organization and its traditionally nationalistic prejudice against foreign encroachment on matters of state security, along with that party’s desperate desire to re-establish hegemony by capitalizing on the electorate’s weariness of a now-stratospheric death toll, led to Peña Nieto’s call for a new strategy, the goal of which is not a large-scale interdiction of narcotics and the capture or killing of drug lords, as the U.S. wants, but rather an amorphous and politically expedient platitude of “reducing violence.”

Mexican President Peña Nieto's government (to their credit) stopped taking money from the same narcos that the Calderon government favored. They picked different winners. During the presidential campaign and his first months in power, Peña Nieto promised to de-militarize the war by creating a civilian paramilitary gendarmerie along Colombian lines, and though he has appointed former Colombian general Oscar Naranjo as his security adviser, the proposed force’s status remains, and is likely to remain, in limbo. As the country’s economy grows at an impressive annual rate of approximately 3.8%, the unprecedented violence unleashed during the previous presidential administration has not abetted in any real way. In fact, in many parts of Mexico it is spreading and increasing, becoming more uniform throughout the country, even though various cartels’ territorial lines have remained largely static. 

President Peña Nieto is not a puppet of the narcos, but he is clearly acting out an agenda that favors one group over another, as the PRI did back in the 1980's when they did their best to 'organize' organized crime.

US - Mexican Relations Deteriorated

On December 15, 2012, two weeks after Peña Nieto was sworn-in as the new president, a tense and premonitory meeting took place at the U.S. embassy in Mexico City between the new government’s national security team, including the new interior minister, attorney general, and various Mexican intelligence officials, and agents of the FBI, CIA, DEA, as well as representatives from the State Department and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. Maintaining a subtle calmness, the scandalized Mexican grandees were briefed on the extent of U.S.-Mexico cooperation in the hemispheric struggle to stem the tide of narcotics into American streets.

The Mexicans were informed that as the violence escalated in quantity and degree, the two countries’ partnership and fierce determination also deepened. By 2011, there was an intelligence fusion center run by the CIA in Mexico City, one run by the DEA in Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, as well as massive American infrastructure development inside CISEN, the Mexican intelligence agency. While American spies aided the various branches of the Mexican military in real-time during raids and intelligence gathering expeditions, U.S. spy planes were given full rights to patrol the skies, and unarmed drones provided Mexican Special Forces with information on the daily patterns of activity of targeted kingpins and their henchmen. To stem the constant threat of cartel intelligence agents’ penetrating the Mexican security services, the CIA’s then-classified program SCENIC was training the Mexicans on vetting methods, as well as on successful asset recruitment. President Calderon had come to rely so much on drones, that he decided to not only purchase some, but also asked the U.S. for armed drones to strike at the traffickers, a request that was turned down due to the immense political risk of collateral damage in politically volatile Mexico. President Calderon had also given U.S. agents the rather exceptional privilege of actually choosing which branches of the Mexican military, and further, which units, received the actionable intelligence, thereby also implicitly agreeing to the Americans’ assessment of the reliability (read incorruptibility) of specific units and officers.

Four months after the above mentioned meeting, President Peña Nieto’s team delivered the first changes to the U.S.-Mexico anti-drug efforts. The PRI appointees declared that Americans would no longer be allowed to work inside the intelligence fusion centers, and that direct communication between civilian CIA and DEA agents and their contacts in the Mexican military was now prohibited.

The PRI needs to be able to organize the narcos under the party's banner and with party control over large shipments north. They can't do that with the US flying drones overhead or with US spies reporting on what's going on both on the streets and in the seat of power.

From an American point of view, the war ended.

(h/t Christopher S. Ljungquist for portions of the information contained in this report to you, the reader)

Coming Soon: Sinaloa Federation Pivots Toward Canada

The Canadians are starting to care about this. But they've been warned about it for over two years now and said nothing but "cheers - eh?"

The Mexican Drug War - Updated (Part One)

Members of the constituted Mexican government have traditionally allied themselves with members of the Beltran Leyva Organization (in its various permutations), the Colima/Millennium Cartel, the Sinaloa Federation (in its various permutations) and not with Los Zetas or the Michoacan Cartels (La Familia Michoacan/Los Caballeros Templarios. As a result, it's not surprising that the Mexican Government puts so much effort into fighting Los Zetas and Los Caballeros Templarios (The Knights Templar).

On Monday July 15th, 2013, SEMAR, the Mexican Navy, arrested the Zetas’ supreme leader Miguel Angel Treviño Morales, alias “Z-40,” 17 miles southwest of Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas state. Treviño’s bloodless arrest has been a cautious PR boon for President Enrique Peña Nieto of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), who came to office promising a drastic reduction in the violence caused by the counter- insurgency campaign launched by his predecessor of the National Action Party (PAN), Felipe Calderon. 

Though Los Zetas did spring from the roots of Mexican Special Forces, they became a franchise operation where anyone who wanted to join in the drug business "bought in" to the Zeta organization. The original Zetas have been killed off or captured for the past five years and Angel Treviño Morales was one of the last of that original cadre to come to heel. But it doesn't matter all that much because someone will fill his shoes with very little difficulty.


To be a successful trafficker, you need infrastructure pipelines within the US (and to a lesser extent elsewhere). Los Zetas has an intact network as does Los Caballeros Templarios, which means that no matter what happens to the cartel people in Mexico, SOMEBODY will rise up, take their place and take charge of the pipelines in the US. 

When I say pipeline, I mean MANY THOUSANDS of independent pipelines. One group of lines for drugs coming in and another group of separate lines for the money going back. These pipelines are almost always made up of networked family members who have no apparent affiliation with the drug business. The pipelines are all independent from each other. There is no cross-pollination. Thus when law enforcement takes one off, it has almost no impact on the business. This explains in part why a one-ton arrest for meth or cocaine doesn't impact the street price.

So the update summary is: more of the same. But you knew that.

The United States is more than ambivalent towards the direction the Mexican administration has taken in its struggle against narco-traffickers. The US Attorney's Office has a racially focused agenda and everybody knows it.

Continued today at noon (Pacific Standard Time) here on Virtual Mirage.