Crime and Violence

Cartel violence levels off nationwide, though already nearing 2007 numbers; alleged cartel operators continue to fall

After a sharp downswing in cartel-related slayings or ejecuciones in reported in April’s news report, such killings have leveled off since our last reporting period, according to Reforma’s Ejecutometro 2009. As of May 15, the number of nationwide ejecuciones was at 2238, up from 1815 a month before, and just 37 shy of the 2007 nationwide total. Chihuahua has remained calm over the past month relative to the levels of violence seen before thousands of soldiers and federal police were deployed there in March; though it still saw the most ejecuciones of any state, with well over 100. Durango and Guerrero, the next most troubled states, continue to register steady increases in cartel slayings, with 259 and 215, respectively. Durango currently has a smaller military presence than other troubled states, and cartel fighting in that state could in the future test the reach of Pres. Calderón’s strategy of deploying troops and federal police to combat surges in violence.

Baja California, which continues to see drastically lower levels of cartel killings as compared to the final months of 2008, nevertheless was the scene of some of the more high-profile killings over the past month. Over the period of an hour on April 29, seven police officers were shot dead and three wounded in five locations in Tijuana. Four were killed at one scene in the east end of the city. Regardless, nationwide killings of police have slowed in the first 19 weeks of 2009 to 151 total, as compared to 244 in the final 19 weeks of 2008. Also in Tijuana, four U.S. citizens residing in San Diego County were found murdered with signs of torture in a van in an eastern Tijuana neighborhood. The victims were between 19 and 23 years old, and Baja California Attorney General Rommel Moreno Manjarrez told said that he presumed they had criminal ties in Mexico and the United States.

The federal Attorney Generals Office (PGR) declared the operational collapse of the Arellano Felix cartel with the apprehension of Isaac Godoy Castro, or “El Dany.” Police and soldiers arrested Godoy along with six others at his gym in late April. The PGR alleges that his role as gym proprietor was a front for a major drug trafficking operation under the command of Fernando Sánchez Arellano, or “El Ingeniero,” believed to be the current leader of the Arellano Felix cartel.

On May 18, elements of the Mexican military also captured in Monterrey, Nuevo León Rodolfo López Ibarra, or “El Nito,” the suspected leader of the Beltrán Leyva cartel in the region. According to Mexican authorities, López Ibarra replaced Héctor Huerta Ríos, who was detained in March of this year. On May 22, the military also captured alleged Gulf Cartel operative Raymundo Almanza Morales, alias “El Gori,” a key lieutenant of the organization who is also listed on the list of Mexico’s top 37 most wanted drug-traffickers.

From the Justice in Mexico Project’s Monthly News Report: May


Blancas Madrigal, Daniel. “Cayó El Dany y se desmorona el cártel de los Arellano Félix: PGR.” La Crónica de Hoy April 25, 2009.

“En una hora fueron ejecutados siete policías de Tijuana; tres más, heridos.” La Jornada April 29, 2009.

Dibble, Sandra. “Investigators gather clues in 4 slayings.” San Diego Union Tribune May 15, 2009.

Rodríguez García, Arturo. “Capturan en NL a operador de los Beltrán Leyva.” Proceso May 18, 2009.

Maya, Nubia. “Cae operador del cartel del Golfo en Monterrey,” El Universal. May 22, 2009.

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