The assassination of Rodolfo Torre Cantú, the PRI candidate for governor of Tamaulipas, is the country’s most serious political killing since the 1994 death of Luis Donaldo Colosio, the PRI’s presidential candidate.
Today’s NYT story has the basic information as currently known.
Most speculation in Mexico points to the violent struggle between the Gulf Cartel (CDG) and Los Zetas—formerly the armed wing of the CDG, and now their rivals—as the proximate cause of the surge in violence in Tamaulipas this year. The Zetas, in particular, are suspected of being behind the ambush that killed Torre Cantú and four of his campaign staff.
Several items are worth noting:
- Torre Cantú had recently gotten enhanced security. The Ministry of Defense had just assigned him a new head of security, General (ret.) Roberto Miranda, who handled security for then-presidential candidate Ernesto Zedillo after the Colosio assassination. (Universal 6/29)
- In May, the PAN mayoral candidate for the town of Valle Hermoso, José Mario Guajardo Varela was assassinated. Valle Hermosa was where Torre Cantú was heading when his caravan was ambushed.
- In eight of the 43 towns in the state, either the PRD or PAN did not field mayoral candidates, mostly because of intimidation and fears for personal safety.
- In February, the U.S. DEA warned their Mexican counterparts of the growing wave of violence in Tamaulipas and Nuevo Leon because of the war between the two groups. (Excelsior 6/29)
Three policemen were killed and a fourth gravely wounded when a patrol car was ambushed in the Monterrey suburb of San Nicolas. This attack follows by a week attacks where grenades were thrown into the police compounds of five Monterrey suburbs; only two of the grenades exploded. The Army warns that the Gulf cartel and the Zeta paramilitary gang are battling for control of the cities and transit routes in Nuevo León and Tamaulipas, with at least 17 confrontations between the two gangs since Feb. 25. Nuevo León governor Rodrigo Medina (PRI) fired his minister of public security and brought back Luis Carlos Treviño Berchelmann, who was Justice minister in the last government. (Reforma 2/28, 3/5, 3/5, 3/6)
The primary government program for supporting poor farmers, Procampo, was shown to be paying support funds to many of the top drug traffickers and their families, as well many prominent political families, according to an investigation carried out by CIDE and Fundar and reported by El Universal. Among the drug traffickers (and their families) who have gotten Procampo financial support: ‘El Mayo’ Zambada (Sinaloa cartel), ‘El Chapo’ Guzmán (Sinaloa cartel), Amado and Vicente Carrillo Fuentes (Juárez cartel), and Juan Garcia Abrego (Gulf Cartel). Procampo was created 15 years ago to assist small farmers adjust to the opening of agricultural trade as part of NAFTA. The investigation estimates that the top 20% of recipients have gotten 80% of the Ps. 171 billion in grants over the life of the program, while the average small farmer receives only Ps.700 per year. In response, Secretary of Agriculture Alberto Cárdenas promised an immediate scrubbing of the list of beneficiaries, but said it was the responsibility of the Justice Ministry to weed out drug traffickers. (Universal 7/27, 7/29, Proceso 7/31)
The Army captured one of the top lieutenants of the Gulf cartel, Raymundo Almanza Morales and three others in Monterrey. He is on the PGR’s list of 37-most wanted drug traffickers. His brother Octavio was arrested in February for the murder of General Mauro Enrique Tello in Cancún. (Reforma 5/21)