Tuesday, May 4, 2010

State Intel Police Officer Murdered Yesterday in Juarez: Why this Murder Will Lead to Joint State-Federal Patrols

Yesterday there was a lull in the recent wave of executions. Only one man, Erasto Cano Carrasco, 37, married, with three children, was killed, an agent with the intelligence unit of the state police (Cipol). He was gunned down on his day off as he was driving his Nissan Sentra in Col. Infonavit Casas Grandes shortly after 8 a.m. Nineteen spent 9 mm. cartridges were found nearby. Cipol agents are routinely escorted to and from their residences, but not on their days off. Police immediately announced that federal agents will now accompany Cipol patrol units in groups of eight, most of them federal police agents. Reasons for this change require a little background. Readers of Spanish can see the original Diario story, written by Luz del Carmen Sosa, by clicking here.

Drug trafficking organizations often communicate to the public or to targeted entities by painting messages on walls, or hanging banners from bridges, or leaving messages on cardboard signs. Sometimes these are signed or otherwise identified, as coming from a specific group. In recent weeks in Juarez some signs have threatened the lives of Cipol agents, ostensibly for "protecting La Linea," that is, the Juárez cartel. On March 17 narco-messages appeared in various places in Juárez demanding that state police secretary Gustavo Zabre Ochoa fire 12 Cipol agents assigned in Chihuahua, Parral, Casas Grandes, and Cd. Juárez, for "protecting" members of La Linea. Presumably the sign was authorized or written by members of the Sinaloa cartel who, according to conventional wisdom, are in a bloody feud with the Juárez cartel for control of the drug trafficking infrastructure in the area. This caused state police to reassign the officers mentioned, but also to launch an internal investigation about each one.

On the other hand, some narco-messages have identified federal government agents as favoring or protecting the Sinaloa cartel (often simply referred to as "Chapo Guzman," the almost mythical reputed leader of the cartel). Shortly after a highly publicized and brazen ambush on April 23 of a patrol vehicle (unit 10627) on the streets of Juárez, which left seven federal police officers dead, a narco-message left on a fence on Colombia Ave. attributed the killings to La Linea as retaliation for the supposed protection by federal police of Chapo Guzman. The sign said, "PF (Federal Police) Inspector Raymundo Mendosa Basques the same will happen to you that happened to those in unit 10627 for supporting ("andar con") chapo...and to all the filthy people who help him...Sincerely, La Linea."

Last year, shortly before Mario Gonzalez, a major operator for the Sinaloa cartel, was captured in Teocaltiche, Jalisco, in May 2009, a narco-sign asserted that General Felipe de Jesus Espitia, commander of the Fifth Military Zone in Chihuahua, was "the right arm of the Pacific (Sinaloa) cartel, Sincerely, Mario Gonzalez, protector of the Pacific Cartel."

Perhaps in part because of these and other similar narco-signs, many rumors have circulated in Juárez to the effect that, in fact, federal government agents do not go after the Sinaloa cartel with the same vigor they use against La Linea, and that state police pursue the Sinaloa cartel with more vigor than they do La Linea. President Calderon felt compelled to deny these rumors on a recent visit to Cd. Juárez.

In part in order to dispel these rumors of bias, and in part to beef up protection against proven threats against state intelligence police, the federal government has decided state and federal police will patrol together and cooperate in joint operations against the cartels and other forms of organized crime.

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