5 murders yesterday in Juarez; total of 424 so far in 2014

There were at least 5 murders reported yesterday in Juarez–the three bodies left near the highway outside of Los Arenales in the Valle de Juarez and two more incidents. A man was killed early in the morning near the state offices of the Federal Attorney General (PGR) in Juarez. He was shot as he was getting into his car after leaving the bar El Museo located in the Pronaf tourist zone. The victim has not been officially identified. This crime occurred 5 days after a multiple homicide was reported at another Pronaf bar, 7 Pecados (7 Sins). Also yesterday, the body of a woman was found inside of a vehicle in the colonia Morelos II. It appeared that the body had been inside the car since Wednesday…

The article says that a total of 424 homicides have occurred so far in 2014. The total at the end of November was 401, so that would leave a count of 23 so far in the first 11 days of December. So far, 45 of the victims are women — almost exactly 10 percent. -Molly

Asesinan a hombre a unos metros de la PGR

2 killed in Pronaf attack in Juarez early Sunday…El Diario

Two men were killed and 2 others injured in an attacked by an armed group inside of a bar in the Pronaf tourist zone in Juarez early Sunday morning. The bar was later closed by the Secretariat of Gobernacion. The attack took place in front of security cameras financed by the US government as part of the Merida Initiative–cameras intended to provide a safer environment and to help the state of Chihuahua fight narco-trafficking.

Ataque armado en bar del Pronaf deja dos muertos (El Diario)

Clausura Gobernación bar del Pronaf por asesinatos

US Ambassador Visits Juarez; Human Heads Found In City; 5 Students & 2 Soldiers Dead In So. Chih.

During the day that US Ambassador Anthony Wayne visited Ciudad Juarez, two heads were found in garbage bags near a maquiladora on Avenida Talamas Camandari in the city.  IT is the 4th finding of mutilated bodies/body parts in the city so far this month. Also yesterday in the southern part of Chihuahua state, the bodies of 5 students from Parral were found near the Chihuahua/Durango border. The report says that the students were from the city of Parral, Chihuahua and according to witnesses they had been abducted by an armed comando unit last Saturday in the area of San Miguel de Badiraguato, Sinaloa and disappeared without a trace. When their bodies were found yesterday, they had been shot dead and showed signs of torture. The report says the bodies were found by the military in a rural area near the border of Chihuahua and Durango. The family is said to be from Parral with links to residents of Chihuahua towns Balleza, Atascaderos and Guadalupe y Calvo.

Victims identified are: Rita Cristina Gutiérrez Escobedo, 25, student at the Tecnológico de Parral, Karina Estefanía Gutiérrez Escobedo, 19, student of the Escuela Normal de Parral, Teresa Escobedo Martínez, Marco Alberto López Martínez  and Esteban Ponce Escobedo, whose ages were not given but they are said to be very young.

Information was released that in the investigation of this multiple homicide, two soldiers were shot to death in a confrontation in Guadalupe y Calvo, but they have not been identified. The bodies of the 5 victims were taken to a funeral home in Parral while the destination of the soldiers’ bodies is unknown.

US Ambassador Praises Juárez For Improvements (El Paso Times)

Hallan A 5 Estudiantes Ejecutados; Matan A 2 Militares Cuando Investigan (El Diario)

Dejan Dos Cabezas Humanas En Avenida Talamás (El Diario)

Violence Cost Mexico 4.4 Billion Pesos In 2013…PROCESO

Violence cost Mexico 4.4 billion pesos, 27.7% of the gross domestic product, in 2013. A study carried out by the Institute for Economy and Peace found that Mexico is the second “least peaceful” country in Latin America [the article does not say what the least peaceful country is…I assume it is Honduras based on recent info] and since 2008, Mexico has gone down 45 positions in the international peace index. Turkey, Iran, Venezuela and Bolivia are all higher than Mexico in this ranking.

The report from the international organization estimates that the least violent state in Mexico is Campeche…The most violent state is Morelos with a murder rate of 78 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants. [n.b. I am not sure what figures the report is using as in the most recent INEGI report, Morelos had a murder rate of about 33 in 2013. See: http://www.inegi.org.mx/inegi/contenidos/espanol/prensa/Boletines/Boletin/Comunicados/Especiales/2014/julio/comunica3.pdf According to that same report (just released in July) the state with the highest murder rate in 2013 was Guerrero with 63 homicides per 100,000 people; second is Chihuahua with 59]

The northern region of the country has had the largest deterioration in the peace index–40% in the past 10 years.

Another interesting finding: 90% of the population of Mexico believe that the police are corrupt.

And in the past 10 years, homicides related to organized crime (no definition given) have increased 73%.

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I believe that this is the website for the Institute: http://economicsandpeace.org/

And some info for MEXICO here: http://www.visionofhumanity.org/#/page/indexes/mexico-peace-index

But I do not think it includes the most recent information…

The full reports are available here: http://www.visionofhumanity.org/#/page/our-gpi-findings

Note that Russia ranks as less peaceful than Mexico or any other country in the Americas, according to the map… Based on a quick look at the report, the organization includes more factors than homicide rates.

I hope to report later this week on the new INEGI numbers released recently.  -molly

Violencia Costó Al País 4.4 Billones De Pesos En 2013 (PROCESO)

UPDATE: August 6, 2014

Here’s a comment and corrective on the data mentioned in this article from Proceso. Thanks to Jose Luis for sending.  I have not studied the reports at the Economics and Peace Institute, but I think there is some interesting stuff there.  See: http://economicsandpeace.org/ -Molly

_________________
The reporting on this report is terrible when it comes to numbers. This is one of the report highlights. Adding to this confusion is the change of names: billion = milmillones (omillardossegún la academiaespañola), trillion =billón. And pesos versus dollars.

The study calculates that the direct cost of violence to the Mexican economy is 3.8% of GDP, while the indirect costs amount to 12% for a total of 2.49 trillion pesos (15.8% of GDP) in 2012. Under optimal conditions, if there was no violence in Mexico, the economy would have the potential to improve by up to 27%.
-José Luis

Mexico Forbids Drug Lord’s Extradition Even As Negotiations With US Continue

This is worth listening to.  One of the more honest looks at the arrest of Chapo in the US media.  Note the statement of the unnamed legal clerk in the audio of the story.

Fronteras Desk spoke with a judge’s clerk in Chihuahua. Fearing possible retribution, he asked that we not use him name. He says Guzmán’s testimony would expose long-alleged government involvement in organized crime. “If he told the truth, you’d find out he’s not even the biggest player,” the man said in Spanish. “You’d soon see connections with (Mexican) congressional representatives and senators.

Mexico Forbids Drug Lord’s Extradition Even As Negotiations With US Continue

By Lorne Matalon

CHIHUAHUA, Mexico — On Feb. 22 the world’s most wanted drug trafficker — Sinaloa Cartel leader Joaquín Archivaldo Guzmán Loera, known as “El Chapo,” or “Shorty”— was captured in a joint U.S.-Mexico operation.

Click here to read the rest of the story and listen to the audio.

Drug Smuggling Twist: Innocent Mexicans Allegedly Duped By Mennonite Suspect…Fronteras Desk

It is seldom that we see reports from the rural parts of the border and this one gives a small taste of what things are like and how a lot of drugs get into the US–through the ports of entry. I was also struck by this statement from the young Mexican man who was tricked into driving the drugs across:
“They treated me well in the U.S.,” he said in Spanish. “No one pressured me, no one attacked me. I have nothing against the U.S. prosecutors or police.”
The subtext: Had he been arrested IN Mexico, the police or army would have beaten and tortured a confession from him.  Also, the men caught in this scheme and deported back to Mexico are very fearful to be identified because they would be targeted by the smugglers and their suppliers for failing to deliver their product in the US.  -Molly
Lorne Matalon | Fronteras

CHIHUAHUA, Mexico —Federal prosecutors in Texas and New Mexico are dealing with a series of unusual cases.

Ten drug smuggling crimes have been traced to a man from a Mennonite community in Mexico who is alleged to have duped the victims.

The seduction starts with a classified ad in the paper, one that 23-year-old named Juan was drawn to. He asks that his last name not be revealed; he’s frightened there may be retribution if the man who placed the ad — identified by U.S. attorneys and the victims as David Giesprecht Fehr — finds him.

The ad reads, “Si tienes visa laser recienmente americano, contratación inmediata.” Translated, “If you have a recent U.S. visa known as a laser visa, there’s immediate work available.”

The man who placed the ad is from the Ciudad Cuauhtémoc area, a 40,000-strong Mennonite community of ranchers and farmers in the northern Mexican state of Chihuahua.

They’re members of a conservative Christian church with European roots. Mennonites were invited by Mexico’s post-revolutionary government to settle here in the 1920s in part to populate Mexico’s border twith the United States.

The Mennonites in Chihuahua today trace their ancestry to Canada, and prior to that Germany and the Netherlands.

Juan answered the ad. And a man called back.

“The man said ‘I’ll pay you $500 a week to drive my truck to the U.S. and back,’” Juan was making $70 a week as a security guard.

The would-be employer, David Giesbrecht Fehr, goes by different aliases and imports American farm equipment. It’s now alleged he ran narcotics.

Mennonites enjoy a deserved reputation as prolific farmers and ranchers. This image was taken near Casas Grandes, Chihuahua where Mennonites have made the desert bloom.

He pitches non-Mennonite Mexicans who respond to his ad by saying that he imports farm equipment from the United States.

What he allegedly did not add is that the trucks he gave people to enter the U.S. with were loaded with large quantities of marijuana.

Juan thought the job offer was too good to be true. The caller was offering to quadruple his salary and give Juan steady work with health benefits.

So he told the caller he needed time to consider the offer.

The same offer was made to Juan’s father. They discussed it together. The father declined while Juan accepted, to his enduring dismay.

Liz Rogers was the federal defender in West Texas whose office represented Juan and five other Mexicans. The other three were arrested crossing into New Mexico.

“Whenever the person that is a Mennonite that the government has identified, whenever he showed up he could talk to them very professionally over exporting and importing farm equipment,” Rogers said. “And so it would be no wonder that they’d believe it was a legitimate job.”

It was anything but. When Juan hit the Texas border at Presidio, a customs agent told him to get out of the truck.

“They didn’t tell me what was happening,” he said in Spanish. Then another customs officer approached.

The officer said a DEA agent would explain everything. When that agent arrived, the conversation continued.

A Mennonite father and son at work in a field near Casas Grandes, Chihuahua.

“Are you carrying drugs?” the agent asked Juan. ‘Absolutely not,’ he replied. He couldn’t digest what he heard next.

“The DEA agent told me I had 57 kilograms (125 pounds) of marijuana in the gas tank,” Juan related. “I couldn’t move, I couldn’t breathe.”

Rogers says one of the cases showed how sophisticated the operation was.

“The marijuana was hidden very professionally in an I-beam,” she recounted. “It was welded into the I-beam of this big flatbed. And the government found it is because there’s x-ray equipment that can find very well hidden marijuana.”

At least seven of the people allegedly duped by Giesprecht, including Juan, live near a cluster of Mennonite villages near Ciudad Cuauhtémoc located about 60 miles southwest of the state capital, Ciudad de Chihuahua.

One non-Mennonite I spoke with outside Ciudad Cuauhtémoc — a man who says he greatly who respects the Mennonite culture — says his neighbors are hard-working farmers. But he says there are exceptions.

“They plant corn. Sometimes plant some marijuana too,” he said in English.

For Juan, arrested with 125 pounds of drugs, and the others in New Mexico and Texas, the prospect of serious jail time was real. But as evidence tied to David Giesbrecht Fehr mounted, the state of New Mexico dismissed all the cases.

In Texas, three defendants were allowed to plead guilty to time served and immediately deported. The defendants’ visas were revoked, and that revocation lasts for three years.

A man drives a cotton harvester on a Mennonite farm near Lopez Mateos, Chihuahua.

As a practical matter, however, none of the now-former defendants will find it easy to return to the United States, even for a visit with family. Juan, for example has aunts and cousins in Denver and Los Angleles.

If Juan to present himself at a border crossing, a computer check of his documents would show that he faced serious drug charges and accepted a plea deal which included immediate deportation.

But Juan’s just happy to be home.

“They treated me well in the U.S.,” he said in Spanish. “No one pressured me, no one attacked me. I have nothing against the U.S. prosecutors or police.”

The alleged drug trafficker, David Giesprecht Fehr, remains at-large. (Lorne Matalon / FRONTERAS)

Planners Network 2014 Conference: Jun 5 – Jun 7

Via Planners Network 2014 Conference: Jun 5 – Jun 7.

For the first time in its history, the Planners Network conference will take place in Mexico, in the border city of Ciudad Juárez, in the State of Chihuahua, from June 5th to June 7th, 2014 at the Universidad Autónoma de Ciudad Juárez (UACJ). Ciudad Juárez is an international crossroad of free trade, and social change in the Americas. It is also part of the Borderplex, a transbordermetropolitan area consisting of three cities (Ciudad Juárez, El Paso, and Las Cruces), located in three different states (Chihuahua, Texas, and Nuevo Mexico), and in two different countries (México and the United States).”

45 murder victims in Juarez in March; 1,025 in Mexico…reports from El Diario and Milenio

El Diario reports that 45 people were victims of homicide in March.  This is the highest number in the past 5 months. Two of these victims were women, 2 were minors and 2 were Federal policemen shot in an ambush on March 19.  The report says that another body was discovered in a clandestine grave in the Valle de Juarez and this case is being investigated by the special prosecutor for crimes against women, but this one is not included in the count–apparently because it cannot be said for certain when she was murdered. In all since the beginning of the year, 97 people have been victims of homicide. In January, there were 26 murders, the majority related to gang fights and not “organized crime.” In February, the state Fiscalia reported 26 murders, and in addition, the discovery of 3 bodies in hidden graves and one decapitated person. I would count this as a total of 30, since it is unlikely these other dead will show up in another tally.

The problem of how the deaths are classified by the different government agencies is illustrated in the other article  from MILENIO. This national report says that there were 1,025 murders “related to organized crime” in March–an increase from January and February.  There are no criteria provided as to how these murders are classified as “organized crime related” as opposed to other homicides.  The article reports that the state of Chihuahua is still at the top of the list for murders with 186 homicides. [The article doesn’t give a figure for the city of Juarez, but if we take the number from the Fiscalia of 45, that would mean there were 141 homicides elsewhere in Chihuahua state in March]. The other most violent states are: Sinaloa with 108 homicides in March; Estado de Mexico — 86; Guerrero — 68.

It is worth noting that the article does not report anything for Tamualipas–a state where numerous very violent incidents were reported during March, but no official tallies of the number of victims seems to exist. The Milenio article does not give a source for its data.

Federal and state police destroy house in Mexico of mother of missing girl…

In Juarez, Federal and state officials are said to have bulldozed the house of Karla Jocabeth Castaneda, mother of 13 yr old Cinthia Jocabeth Castañeda who has been missing since 2008. Karla participated in the recent march of mothers of missing women from Juarez to Chihuahua, calling on the government to do more to solve the cases of their disappeared children. This latest action by the police is seen as an attempt to intimidate the mother and activist. Here is an article about the march to Chihuahua featuring statements by Karla Castaneda… At El Diario is a photograph of the destruction of Karla’s house. molly