Mar 27, 2008

2,000 troops, agents deployed; Juarez dead 200-plus

Copyright (C) 2007, 2008 Peace without Borders and Peace Books

- Mexican government sends 2,500 soldiers, agents to the Juarez border.
- Was Chapo Guzman killed in Guatemala?
- Cony Velarde resigns
- Alleged sighting of Chapo Guzman with Mexican soldiers
- Suspect stalks and attacks high school girls

The rising body count in Juarez, Mexico

By Kelly McKenzie
March 28, 2008

JUAREZ, MEXICO - The Mexican government has dispatched nearly 2,500 soldiers and federal agents to the border in response to complaints about the violence that has engulfed Juarez and other places in Chihuahua state.
It remains to be seen what kind of effect this will have, because other communities in Mexico have complained about the lack of organization and coordination between the military at the ground level and their superiors.
Even high-level military officials have complained about being sent to fight drug traffickers without any intelligence or coordination or planning. For the time being, their presence in Juarez is strictly a show of force, according to experts.
Authorities in Guatemala and Mexico are investigating the possibility that Joaquin (Chapo) Guzman Loera was killed this week in a shootout in Guatemala.
The country south of Mexico, which has an alarming number of femicides since the Juarez drug cartel began operating there, is also one of the drug lord's alleged homes and staging areas.
This week also, Cony Velarde, coordinator of homicide investigations for the state of Chihuahua, submitted her resignation, allegedly due to death threats.
A video making the rounds on the Internet links several Chihuahua state attorney general and police officials and elected officials to the Carrillo Fuentes drug cartels. Officials have said little about the video except to deny its contents.
Other police have quit after several of their colleagues were gunned down by alleged organized crime elements.
More than 200 people have been reported killed in Juarez since Jan. 1, a record for the city. Business leaders mostly are complaining about the media's focus on the violence that is giving the city a bad reputation.
Sergio Dante Almaraz had an argument with Velarde before he was killed in Juarez in January 2006, and before that said in a radio interview that if anything happened to him he held the state deputy attorney general's office responsible.
Velarde is a former state special prosecutor assigned to look into the women's murders. She and one of her predecessors were criticized for their relative youth and inexperience in dealing with the complex crimes.
In another unusual report, a couple of professors alleged seeing Guzman escorted by Mexican soldiers earlier in March in a Juarez eatery.
Was Guzman in their custody?
"No, it was clear the soldiers were protecting him. We were horrified because we thought they might retaliate for what we had seen," one of the professors said.
According to press accounts out of Mexico City, one of the explanations for the escalating violence in Juarez is the ongoing rivalry between two factions of the Juarez drug cartel of the 1990s - the Sinaloa group headed by Guzman and the other group headed by the Carrillo Fuenteses (who are also from the state of Sinaloa).
An event that has been suppressed by the media south of the border is the alleged harassment and sexual assault of girls in Juarez high schools.
The son of a law enforcement official who drives a luxury model car and administers a Web site has come under scrutiny after numerous complaints of this nature.