Two ex-police officers who allegedly work for the Sinaloa drug cartel have been arrested in Monterrey, Mexico after a shoot out with current officers on Thursday, reports Sean Matteson in the SA Express News' Beyond the Border blog:
A 30-day arraigo places the suspects in legal limbo. The tactic has become common in Mexico's war on organized criminals. It gives investigators a chance to build charges that will stick in Mexico's famously slippery criminal justice system.As Grits discussed last week, Monterrey was recently the scene of the shocking assassination of the chief organized crime investigator for the state of Nuevo Leon, a key American ally. On the US side, boosted enforcement has been stymied by a plague of police corruption. Now current cops are shooting it out with former cops in the streets of Monterrey.
Not surprisingly, legal experts question the effectiveness and constitutionality of such quasi-legal detentions.
When the 30-day lockdown ends, the suspects will still face federal investigators over their alleged possession of a controlled handgun.
Friday night in Nuevo Laredo, US-trained turncoat Mexican special forces personnel ("Los Zetas"), who work for the rival Gulf Cartel, engaged in a dramatic shootout in an upscale neighborhood using bazookas and grenades ("Shootout rocks ritzy part of Nuevo Laredo," SA Express News, Sept. 23):
Such violence is worsening not in spite of the surge in US-side border security, but because of it. Good intentions notwithstanding, clearly everything we've done so far to secure the border isn't working.
News of it was published only in the newspaper El Norte of Monterrey and the Web site EnLineaDirecta.info.
El Norte identified one of the injured as Guadalupe Torres, a state ministerial police officer.
Two unconfirmed versions of the attack circulated. One is that the battle was between rival drug cartels. Another is that the military, acting on fresh intelligence, raided a house.
The Associated Press, quoting an anonymous source, reported that officers with the Federal Preventative Police were involved in the shootout, battling alleged drug dealers.
What appeared for sure was that the victims were members of Los Zetas, the ruthless enforcement arm of the Gulf Cartel, one U.S. official familiar with the shooting said.
What a mess.
UPDATE (9/25): A Dallas News followup reports that the gun battle Friday night was between Los Zetas and members of the Mexican military, acting on a tip from the rival Sinaloa Cartel ("Cartel warfare blows up," Sept. 25):
The Zetas have again become entrenched in Nuevo Laredo, and they practically control the movement of people through an intricate web of spies, checkpoints and skillful use of technology, provoking an extraordinary cross-border human exodus, U.S. and Mexican authorities say.
Last year, U.S. and Mexican authorities reported that the number of Zetas was falling rapidly, the result of both government pressure and ongoing warfare with rival cartels.
But the shadowy group of elite former military officers, soldiers and others has now grown to more than 500 nationwide, with hundreds more in a support network throughout the country, U.S. officials said. Some of those networks are deepening their ties to Texas cities, including Houston and Dallas, with the help of Texas gang members.
A 40-minute shootout late Friday between Zetas and members of the Mexican military – reportedly acting on tips from the Sinaloa cartel – involved grenades and bazookas in a residential neighborhood of Nuevo Laredo, U.S. authorities said. The firefight killed four people suspected of drug trafficking – believed to be Zetas – and injured at least four others, U.S. authorities said.
The Zetas, enforcers of the Gulf cartel, are battling rival members of the Sinaloa cartel for drug distribution routes, including the Interstate 35 corridor into Texas.
U.S. authorities said the Gulf cartel has established training camps in the states of Tamaulipas – its base of operations – and Nuevo León, both of which border Texas, and in the central state of Michoacán. The organization is recruiting former Guatemalan special forces military personnel known as Kaibiles and members of the notorious cross border gangs known as Maras, including the violent Mara Salvatruchas with ties to El Salvador.