July 3rd, 2012
erickstoll
The Fight For Guadalajara
For The New Yorker, William Finegan explores the escalating drug war in Guadalajara, Mexico, a city that had until recently had not seen the worst of the violence. 

Its Guadalajara chieftain, Ignacio (Nacho) Coronel Villarreal, became known as the King of Crystal. He lived in the city’s wealthiest neighborhood but ran his operations without flamboyance. The profits were apparently fabulous. Then, in July, 2010, Coronel was killed in an Army raid on his home. Speculation was rife. Armchair warriors wondered if El Chapo had set up his old friend Nacho, out of concern that his Jalisco kingdom was becoming too independently powerful. In any event, everyone said that taking Coronel alive was out of the question. The “gentleman narco,” as I heard him called in Guadalajara, knew who in the Army was on whose payroll. That was why the Army sent a hundred soldiers to attack the house where he had lived, more or less openly, for many years.
“That was when things changed in Jalisco,” a bookstore clerk on Avenida Chapultepec told me. “That was the end of the peace.” The Zetas, who reportedly know nothing about cooking meth but are old hands at the hostile takeover of going concerns, started making more aggressive alliances with disaffected local gangsters.
“Heating up the plaza” is the term of art for what’s happening in Guadalajara, mainly in the poor barrios and in the badlands on the outskirts, the places absorbing the city’s wild recent growth. Tlajomulco de Zuñiga, a big, shapeless municipio (the rough equivalent of a county) on the city’s southern edge, has seen its population quadruple in a decade, to almost half a million. The PRI’s candidate for governor recently described the area as “a dumping ground for corpses.” Bad guys dropped their victims in local ditches. The Army conducted raids on local meth labs. In February, the Army announced that it had seized, in a “historic” bust, in Tlajomulco, fifteen tons of methamphetamine. The street value of that much meth was, by the Army’s figuring, some four billion dollars. If true, that would indeed make it the largest meth bust in history. But was it true?

Read The Full Article Here. 
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The Fight For Guadalajara

For The New Yorker, William Finegan explores the escalating drug war in Guadalajara, Mexico, a city that had until recently had not seen the worst of the violence. 

Its Guadalajara chieftain, Ignacio (Nacho) Coronel Villarreal, became known as the King of Crystal. He lived in the city’s wealthiest neighborhood but ran his operations without flamboyance. The profits were apparently fabulous. Then, in July, 2010, Coronel was killed in an Army raid on his home. Speculation was rife. Armchair warriors wondered if El Chapo had set up his old friend Nacho, out of concern that his Jalisco kingdom was becoming too independently powerful. In any event, everyone said that taking Coronel alive was out of the question. The “gentleman narco,” as I heard him called in Guadalajara, knew who in the Army was on whose payroll. That was why the Army sent a hundred soldiers to attack the house where he had lived, more or less openly, for many years.

“That was when things changed in Jalisco,” a bookstore clerk on Avenida Chapultepec told me. “That was the end of the peace.” The Zetas, who reportedly know nothing about cooking meth but are old hands at the hostile takeover of going concerns, started making more aggressive alliances with disaffected local gangsters.

“Heating up the plaza” is the term of art for what’s happening in Guadalajara, mainly in the poor barrios and in the badlands on the outskirts, the places absorbing the city’s wild recent growth. Tlajomulco de Zuñiga, a big, shapeless municipio (the rough equivalent of a county) on the city’s southern edge, has seen its population quadruple in a decade, to almost half a million. The PRI’s candidate for governor recently described the area as “a dumping ground for corpses.” Bad guys dropped their victims in local ditches. The Army conducted raids on local meth labs. In February, the Army announced that it had seized, in a “historic” bust, in Tlajomulco, fifteen tons of methamphetamine. The street value of that much meth was, by the Army’s figuring, some four billion dollars. If true, that would indeed make it the largest meth bust in history. But was it true?

Read The Full Article Here. 

// Follow Read This, Not That on Tumblr / Facebook / Twitter //

January 12th, 2012
arvindsuguness
The Once and Future Drug War
Since Mexico’s President Felipe Calderon began a war on drug gangs in 2006, nearly fifty thousand people have been killed in drug related violence. Writing for The Washington Monthly, Elizabeth Dickinson examines the state of the drug war in Colombia, a war whose alleged success pointed the way for Mexico:

In Medellín, I met a middle-aged woman named Doli Posada who described this new landscape. “There are so many people who are afraid to leave their neighborhoods these days,” she told me, referring to the barrios that creep up from the mountainous city’s high line. In the community where she lives, her neighbors are being asked, once again, to pay armed groups taxes to provide “security.” After a few brief years of calm, today they feel anything but safe. According to many accounts, violence in the barrios took off when Medellín’s once dominant crime boss, a former paramilitary known as “Don Berna” (his real name was Diego Fernando Murillo Bejarano)—was extradited to the U.S. in 2008. After Uribe’s military had beaten back FARC, Don Berna had been able to solidify his control over the city and pacify it. Now that he’s gone, new, smaller gangs have sprung up to fight over who gets to fill the vacuum. “By seriously crippling the competing guerrillas, the government had given a monopoly to Don Berna,” wrote Francis Fukuyama and Seth Colby in a recent article in Foreign Policy magazine. “It was peace achieved through market dominance, not demilitarization.”
And the problems are not just in Medellín. An hour’s flight from Bogota, on the Pacific coast, the town of Buenaventura is reeling. During the height of summer, gangs held frequent gun battles to control several of the barrios that have access to the ocean in this seaside port town—the knotted creeks of the coastline are perfect for getting cocaine out of the country fast. In the licit markets too, prices here are much higher than in even the posh areas of Bogota, and the armed gangs control every market, from cocaine all the way to eggs, milk, and ripe plantains. 

Read the full article here.

The Once and Future Drug War

Since Mexico’s President Felipe Calderon began a war on drug gangs in 2006, nearly fifty thousand people have been killed in drug related violence. Writing for The Washington Monthly, Elizabeth Dickinson examines the state of the drug war in Colombia, a war whose alleged success pointed the way for Mexico:

In Medellín, I met a middle-aged woman named Doli Posada who described this new landscape. “There are so many people who are afraid to leave their neighborhoods these days,” she told me, referring to the barrios that creep up from the mountainous city’s high line. In the community where she lives, her neighbors are being asked, once again, to pay armed groups taxes to provide “security.” After a few brief years of calm, today they feel anything but safe. According to many accounts, violence in the barrios took off when Medellín’s once dominant crime boss, a former paramilitary known as “Don Berna” (his real name was Diego Fernando Murillo Bejarano)—was extradited to the U.S. in 2008. After Uribe’s military had beaten back FARC, Don Berna had been able to solidify his control over the city and pacify it. Now that he’s gone, new, smaller gangs have sprung up to fight over who gets to fill the vacuum. “By seriously crippling the competing guerrillas, the government had given a monopoly to Don Berna,” wrote Francis Fukuyama and Seth Colby in a recent article in Foreign Policy magazine. “It was peace achieved through market dominance, not demilitarization.”

And the problems are not just in Medellín. An hour’s flight from Bogota, on the Pacific coast, the town of Buenaventura is reeling. During the height of summer, gangs held frequent gun battles to control several of the barrios that have access to the ocean in this seaside port town—the knotted creeks of the coastline are perfect for getting cocaine out of the country fast. In the licit markets too, prices here are much higher than in even the posh areas of Bogota, and the armed gangs control every market, from cocaine all the way to eggs, milk, and ripe plantains. 

Read the full article here.

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