Following are the tallies in the large-scale killings or massacres that have occurred this year, pieced together from a variety of sources.
Naval marines surrounded and killed the leader of the Gulf Cartel, Antonio Ezequiel Cárdenas Guillén, aka Tony Tormenta and four of his bodyguards in a pitched battle in the border city of Matamoros. Columnist Raymundo Riva Palacio called it the government’s “most paradigmatic success in the 47 month long war against drugs.” The operation, which left three Marines dead and another four wounded, cements the position of the Marines as the elite agency for strikes against drug kingpins. Two reporters were also killed in the crossfire. The Navy said the operation to trap Cárdenas began six months ago with intelligence derived from the capture of some of the Gulf Cartel’s paramilitary wing, the Scorpions. The U.S. DEA also reportedly provided intelligence that assisted in locating Cárdenas. The Navy said that Cardenas had evaded capture on two separate occasions in the last month prior to this final operation. The Marines deployed 660 troops, 3 helicopters, and 17 vehicles in the operation, while the Army provided an outer ring of security to prevent cartel reinforcements from reaching their leader. (Eje Central 11/8)
NPR’s John Burnett has an extensive report on the military operation, the struggle between the Gulf Cartel and Los Zetas, and the impact on Matamoros.
Death toll by month. Source: Reforma
According to the tally kept by Reforma, the death toll from the drug war passed the 10,000 mark this week, reaching 10,035 killed since the start of the year. This surpasses 2009′s full year record by more than 50%, with almost two months still to go. (On the sporadic occasions when the government has released it’s own statistics they have been significantly higher than the tallies kept by the news organizations.) Of Reforma’s total, 52 were military and 637 were police officers. Chihuahua continues to be the bloodiest state, with 2,797 killed. (Reforma 11/4)
Death toll by state. Source: Reforma
Francisco Javier Gómez Meza, the warden of the federal maximum security prison in Puente Grande, Jalisco was arrested by Mexican Interpol agents at the Mexico City airport and held on drug trafficking charges. Specifically, he is charged with providing protection to the Beltrán Leyva cartel. Prior to his recent appointment as head of the prison, Gómez Meza was a senior official in the federal police and AFI, and is a close colleague of Secretary of Public Security Genaro García Luna. In 2006, he was given an award by the U.S. DEA for his work against drug trafficking. The Puente Grande prison is best known for the 2001 escape of El Chapo Guzmán, Mexico’s most wanted narcotrafficker. Today, a judge ruled that there was sufficient evidence to continue to hold him. (Universal 10/29, 11/3, Reforma 11/3)
The Chamber of Deputies recessed for the long holiday weekend without electing three new board members for the Federal Electoral Institute (IFE), by the legal deadline of October 30th. According to press reports, the PAN and PRI leadership had agreed to give two of the vacancies to PRI-approved nominees and one to a PAN-approved nominee, freezing out the PRD. The supposed deal was attacked not only by the PRD but also by a number of Deputies in both the PAN and PRI. (Such a deal in 2003 contributed to the IFE’s loss of credibility as an impartial arbiter in the wake of the 2006 presidential election.) The vote is now scheduled for Wednesday, after Congress returns from the Day of the Dead holiday. The three IFE board members to be elected to 9-year terms will be selected from a list of 17 candidates already approved as meeting the legal requirements for the position. (Reforma 10/29)
Seven youths between the ages of 19 and 28 were gunned down in central Mexico City, near the Tepito black market district. Two vehicles reportedly opened fire on a group of youths on the street late at night. This is the fourth massacre in Mexico in less than a week. As in the other cases, the authorities are attributing the killings to drug gangs, but have provided no substantive information. (Universal 10/28)
In the third large scale massacre in less than a week, 15 persons were killed and 2 wounded in a car wash in Tepic, Nayarit today. At 11 am, the attackers drove up in two vehicles and started firing. The vehicles were found abandoned a short distance away. The Governor of the State, Ney González, announced that he fired the head of the state police and seven other senior police officials in the wake of the killings. (Reforma 10/27, Excelsior 10/28)