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)
Without respite from the violence of the previous week, the death toll from gang-related violence reached 90 on Monday. A convoy of Federal Police was ambushed in Zitácuaro, Michoacan; 12 federales were killed, and more than a dozen wounded. In Chihuahua, three more Federal Police were killed while on patrol in the state capital. In Sinaloa, an armed group believed to be members of the Los Zetas paramilitary gang broke into the high security wing of a prison near Mazatlán and executed 29 prisoners. (Universal 6/15)
The Army captured Héctor Luna, aka El Tori, in Monterrey yesterday. “El Tori is considered by military intelligence to be one of the most powerful members of the Los Zetas armed group in northeastern Mexico,” according to El Universal. Within one half hour, cartel members staged 28 “narco-blockades” on roads and highways across the metropolitan region, according to Nuevo León’s Government Secretary. Motorists abandoned their cars and shopkeepers closed their stores, fearing shootouts between the authorities and the gangsters. Shots were also fired at various security installations in the city. El Tori was transported to Mexico City by the Army. (Universal 6/10)
The Justice Ministry (PGR) arrested Gregorio “Greg” Sánchez, the PRD-PT-Convergencia candidate for governor of the state of Quintana Roo. Sánchez is the mayor of Cancún, and was charged with violation of drug laws, racketeering, and use of illicit funds. PGR sources said he was linked to the Los Zetas paramilitary gang and the Beltrán Leyva cartel. His administration has been under suspicion at least since the kidnapping and murder of General Mauro Enrique Tello in February 2009. PRD Senate leader Carlos Navarrette angrily denounced the arrest in a press conference as a political provocation. “As president of the Senate, I consider it completely unacceptable to use the PGR for purely electoral and political ends….This situation will have an enormous cost for democracy in Mexico,” he said. (Universal 5/26, Reforma 5/26)
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)
A shootout at a major intersection in the Monterrey suburb of Juárez left at least 12 dead, including a leader of the Los Zetas paramilitary gang who was believed to be behind the November assassination of the police chief of the neighboring suburb of García. Hours later, an armed gang attacked a police detention center in another suburb and freed 23 suspects, including 15 alleged members of Los Zetas. (Universal 12/5)
Posted in Drug wars
According to the organized crime directorate SIEDO, the Juárez cartel led by Vicente Carrillo Fuentes has created its own paramilitary hit squads, recruited from among members of the Army’s elite units. The ‘Lynxes’ are thought to number at least 80 men, operating in 4 or 5 man cells, and are the cartel’s answer to Los Zetas, the paramilitary wing of the Gulf cartel. The Lynxes are thought to be behind the attempt against Chihuahua governor José Reyes Baeza last February. (Universal 7/20)