Crime and Violence

“Narco-banners” appear in at least 14 states

So-called “narco-banners” were hung in cities throughout Mexico in mid-May, including the border states of Chihuahua, Tamaulipas, and Sonora, the Pacific state of Guerrero, and the Gulf state of Veracruz. As in the past, the banners were displayed in high-profile locations, such as above highway overpasses. They bore messages similar to previous banners, charging and high-ranking Calderón administration officials, including Public Security Secretary Genaro García Luna, with complicity in drug trafficking operations. The banners began to appear shortly after a federal judge authorized the federal Attorney General’s Office to detain 14 suspected members of the Beltrán Leyva cartel captured in Cuernavaca, Morelos.

Banners hung in Chihuahua also corresponded with Pres. Calderón’s May 14 visit to Ciudad Juárez, during which he lauded troops for the progress they have made in battling the drug cartels. As though to preempt his statements, the banners leveled accusations of torture and other injustices at the hands of federal police.

These banners also seemingly attempted to take a moral high ground, requesting that Pres. Calderón not interfere with presumed cartel operatives’ family members, and to acknowledge the “class of people” in charge of the war on the drug cartels. “We do not commit injustices, and never break our codes,” said one. Police have reportedly arrested and detained parents, brothers and sisters, and in some cases grandparents of the La Familia and Beltrán Leyva organizations.

It is not clear whether such public messages sway public opinion one way or another, but the banners do demonstrate a high level of coordination, and authorities are always quick to respond. Nevertheless, no one has been indicted on charges related to making or hanging the banners. Members of the National Action Party (PAN), of which Pres. Calderón is a member, insist that the narco-banners are a sign that the president’s efforts in combating organized crime have been effective in putting drug cartels on the defensive.

Ironically, the day after the banners were hung in Chihuahua demanding respect for the sanctity of cartel members’ families, gunmen killed a municipal police commander, his wife and two children, 16 and 9 respectively, three other members of his family and a neighbor near Villahermosa, Tabasco. No possible motives or suspects have been mentioned in the press to date.

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


Cano, Luis Carlos. “Colocan narcomantas en Chihuhaua durante visita de Calderón.” El Universal May 14, 2009.

Ramos Ramírez, Mar Horacio. “Narcomantas, señal que Calderón trabaja: PAN.” El Universal May 15, 2009.

Reyes, Rodulfo. “Asesinan en Tabasco a comandante y cuatro niños integrantes de su familia.” La Crónica de Hoy May 15, 2009.

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