22 murders in March 2015–lowest number since 2007; more bodies found in Valle de Juarez

There were 22 murders in Juarez in month of March 2015…the lowest figure in any month since 2007. The total for 2015 is now 81.

January 30

February 29

March 22

There were 18 days with no homicides during March 2015. That is the good news.
However, 8 of the 22 murder victims this month were women–a higher number and higher percentage than has been seen in recent years–36 percent of the victims were women. The victims ranged in age from 16 to 51 and they were killed under a variety of circumstances according to the details in the El Diario article below.
On March 7, Alicia Diaz Murillo, 51, was tortured and strangled in colonia Barrio Alto–the crime has not been clarified.

On March 8, Lluvia Graciela López López, 18, was killed by her husband Edgar Franco.

On March 11, Maribel Delgado Rodríguez, 32, and her husband Jesús Manuel Monárrez Arreola, 40, were beaten to death in the Colonia Granjas de Santa Elena.

Ivonne Adriana Valenzuela Gómez, 45, and her daughter Cinthia Berenice Valdez Valenzuela, 25, were murdered on March 15. Their bodies were abandoned on the street in the colonia Fray García de San Francisco and both had been stabbed to death.

Perla Nalleli Monreal Vázquez, 23, was shot to death on March 18 in colonia Virreyes.

On March 21, Esmeralda Guadalupe Galván Guerrero, 16, was found dead and partially buried in a vacant lot in Parajes de San José. She had been strangled. The young girl had disappeared around March 9 near the University.

On March 22, María Luisa Méndez López, 36, was killed in colonia Lomas de Morelos.

According to the Fiscalia, the unresolved cases are related to the local drug market (el narcomenudeo).

Also posted below, El Diario reported new findings of human remains in the Valle de Juarez–possibly 8 or more bodies. No mention of when these people were killed. But these deaths are not included in the number of murders for March or possibly for any other period.

MARCH 2015


Cierra marzo con 22 asesinatos, la cifra más baja ¡desde 2007!

Luz del Carmen Sosa

El Diario | Martes 31 Marzo 2015 | 23:22 hrs

El mes de marzo concluyó con 22 homicidios dolosos registrados en diferentes puntos de la ciudad, de acuerdo con el seguimiento periodístico que se lleva de este delito en la cobertura diaria de hechos y la información oficial de la Secretaría de Seguridad Pública (SSPM) y la Fiscalía General del Estado (FGE). Este es el número más bajo de asesinatos registrado en esta frontera desde antes de que comenzara el período de mayor violencia, que arrancó en enero de 2008.


El Diario | Peritos de la Fiscalía General del Estado en la zona del poblado Doctor Porfirio Parra

Localizan más osamentas en el Valle


El Diario | Martes 31 Marzo 2015 | 23:51 hrs

Por segundo día consecutivo, personal de la Fiscalía General del Estado (FGE) Zona Norte realizó excavaciones en el Valle de Juárez, donde se presume se localizaron varios restos humanos. …

Death on Sevenmile Road…Border Killings Investigation…Texas Observer

A long and deeply researched piece by Melissa del Bosque on the Texas DPS shootings of Guatemalan men from a helicopter in 2012. Go to the link for the full story, photos and video… This is the piece to give the lie to the “violence spilling over the border” hysteria we hear so often.  What I would say is YES, violence is spilling over the border…from NORTH to SOUTH… not the other direction as Fox News, the US Congress and the Texas DPS wants you to believe.  

I will share something personal:  During 2010 and 2011, I had the opportunity to work with Charles Bowden and to travel with him from one end of the border to another… On one trip we drove from Las Cruces to Brownsville. We spent time on Falcon Lake in Texas looking into the disappearance of David Hartley. We took a ride in a fast bass boat over to the Mexican waters of the lake. Our guide showed us the spot where reports said Hartley was shot and disappeared. The depth of the water there was 2.5 feet. (http://www.cnn.com/2012/10/08/world/americas/mexico-cartel-arrest/) There was a lot more leading us to question the official story about the disappearance of David Hartley and many more of the hysterical “violence spilling over the border” stories.

Charles wrote the story (commissioned by a high profile magazine for outdoor sports) and debunked this and other “violence spilling over the border” myths. It was rejected because he didn’t write the story they wanted. He wrote the truth. He sent the story to another very high-profile left-liberal magazine. His editor there rejected it also because she said she didn’t believe the story because “it stands to reason that violence was spilling north.” Chuck wrote a personal memo about this later: “At that point, I thought of two things: why lies rule on the border and why Americans feel the need of a wall.”

So it is refreshing to see the Texas Observer on the case of immigrants being shot from helicopters… by US law enforcement.

If you’d like to see an entertaining video of Chuck talking about this, here’s a link:
Charles Bowden: America’s favorite lethal lies about the border, Utah Valley University, May 2011: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_BsO4WuKCUM

Mexico Violence: Dozens Of Bodies Uncovered In Acapulco…BBC

For those who believe that the violence is diminishing in Mexico… Consider the fact that we have no idea how (or IF) the mass killings happening now along the border in Tamaulipas or these mass graves in Guerrero even get into the official statistics. More details below from Animal Politico.

Mexico Police Find Dozens Of Bodies In Acapulco (BBC News)

Hallan 60 Cadáveres En Crematorio Abandonado En Acapulco; Dueño Ya Tiene Orden De Localización (Animal Politico)

Q & A with Erin Siegal McIntyre

Erin Siegal McIntyre is a photographer who also writes narrative nonfiction, produces for TV and web, and reports for radio. Her work has appeared in the various publications including New Yorker, the New York Times, Rolling Stone, and O Magazine. She’s a Senior Fellow at the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism, and was a 2012-2013 Soros Media Justice Fellow. Her award-winning book Finding Fernanda was the basis for an hour-long CBS special investigation. She lives in Tijuana.

For more info, visit her website


Interview by Virginia Isaad

1. Having extensively covered the border, what has been one of the most difficult stories to cover and why?

Difficult can mean various things: a story can be hard technically, hard because of related security concerns, or simply because it’s not sexy enough to place with a media organization. But those kinds of obstacles are regular.

When I think about my three years on the border, covering the narcofosas related to El Pozolero was emotionally challenging. It was a combination of the graphic nature of the discoveries—seeing the actual pipes through which liquefied bodies were pumped, the makeshift holding tanks, the custom spigots, and the various site locations around eastern Tijuana: totally run-of-the-mill, dime-a-dozen poor neighborhoods— and then the immensity of strength and grace shown by the families in continual searches for kidnapped and disappeared loved ones. That awed me. I’ve been to a number of excavation sites, and came to understand the joy of finding a human bone fragment or tooth—a beacon of hope in the dark, a possible lead that could bring closure or answers.

I’m very protective over my own perception, and I intentionally avoid covering regular nota roja or crime in Mexico. I pay attention, but I don’t actively cover it. Quite simply, I want my instincts to remain as intact as possible; I don’t want to be one of those journalists who becomes deadened or desensitized. You can’t feel, perceive, write, and relay information strongly if you’re operating from a void of detachment.

There is something so intense and profound about the power of hope, civility, and basic human kindness in the face of such an unimaginable, ongoing hunt. I took this photograph of Fernando Ocegueda as he showed me around one excavation site before Mexican investigators arrived. He still hasn’t found his son, or his son’s body. It’s been six years.


 2. A lot is being reported on immigrant children crossing the border. What do you have to say about this issue?

You can read my latest here.

I also wrote a quick piece this week for TakePart, about abuse allegations related to child detainees under Customs and Border Patrol custody.

I’ve been working in Miami for the last month, and have felt really far from my beats—the border, and child welfare. It’s been frustrating being so far from home!

3. For our Q & A with Todd Miller, he mentioned Border Patrol youth programs and you recently did a story on teenage drug mules. Would you say that as the drug war progresses, youths are more susceptible to the violence than before? Why or Why not?

I’ve done a few stories on teenage drug mules, most recently for NPR’s Latino USA and for Al Jazeera America. I’m not sure you could make the argument that teens are any more susceptible to bad decision-making than ever before. But you might actually be able to make the case that heightened border enforcement leads to a heightened apprehension rate for teens working as mules.

There’s also something to be said related to the normalization of drug use in American society. (Medicinal) marijuana is legal in California, so taping a few pounds of it to your belly and walking across the border in exchange for a hundred bucks or a new cell phone might not seem like such a big deal if you’re a teenager clueless about the criminal consequences.

My AJAM story about Cruz Marcelino Velázquez Acevedo touches on that ignorance; Velázquez was a teen who died in Border Patrol custody after drinking from a bottle of liquid meth while being questioned. He took a gulp to prove to the agents that it was apple juice. He probably didn’t think it would kill him, but it was a painful, agitated death by overdose. He was writhing and crying for his family.

4. During your fellowship with the Open Society you focused on U.S. deportation policy, what did you learn during your time on this project?

This project was an experiment of sorts; I was awarded a Media Justice fellowship to execute a group project along with two other teammates, both of whom had no previous journalism experience. One of my partners was a law professor specializing in juvenile incarceration and immigration detention, and my other partner was a former gang member and deportee who’d served 14 years in American prison, from age 16 to 28.

Our focus was on “bad” immigrants, criminal deportees, and the gray area between. We worked around issues related to people who were deported after serving time for aggravated felony convictions. The definition of “aggravated felony” includes some misdemeanors under current immigration law, so it’s pretty broad. There’s a lot to unpack, and we had a busy year reporting for different platforms, from comic book graphic journalism to traditional TV pieces.

We aimed to tell stories that humanized deportees, specifically those considered “bad” or undesirable, with criminal records. Many people don’t understand that there’s no double jeopardy for non-citizens, green card holders (legal residents) and undocumented immigrants alike. That means after they’ve served time, and if their offense is considered an aggravated felony under U.S immigration law, then they’re automatically deported. There’s no guarantee to counsel, or appeal. They can’t fight it. They’re deported, and there’s no recourse for ever returning- they’re banned for life. This happens to many people who grow up in the U.S, and consider themselves American.

5. The adoption of immigrant children has been the focus of your books. In one article, you cite that around 5,100 children of undocumented immigrants were in state care, and in many instances, had been cut off completely from communicating with their families. One-fifth of foster care children are subsequently adopted. What can you tell us about the current state of foster care for immigrant children?

Finding Fernanda and the related special “Perilous Journey” focused on unraveling one Guatemalan organized crime network that was working with American companies to facilitate the international adoptions of Guatemalan children to the United States. That’s completely different than the question you raise about undocumented immigrant children, though there is some overlap.

My friend and colleague, reporter Seth Freed Wessler, is the author of the authoritative report, “Shattered Families,” which digs into the complicated intersection of child welfare and current U.S. immigration policy. His findings and statistics are based on years of research, and today in 2014, they’re actually getting old.

No one has yet to update them; this kind of endeavor takes an investment of time and money. A lot of news outlets just can’t afford to do that kind of serious investigative work.


6. What is an aspect of the violence in Mexico that you feel isn’t covered enough?

 I would argue that it’s not “violence in Mexico,” per se. The drug war isn’t a Mexican issue, it’s a shared responsibility. That’s nothing new.

I do think it’s always important to pay attention to discrepancies in crime reporting, especially contradictions between statistics from various government agencies and officials. There’s a lot of sugary spin (remember Mexico’s forecasted GDP growth last year?) and it’s easy for foreign reporters to devour it.

But in general, I don’t think the entire country of Mexico is covered enough! Then again, I adore mi hermosa patria adoptiva and I’m totally biased. So shoot, take my border reporting with a grain of salt, or ten. I love Mexico.

¡Y Tijuana rifa!

Border Reflection & Debunking Myths

Listera Kathy Nicodemus sent this reflection (posted with permission) on the current border situation and below is an excellent article by David Bacon published in IN THESE TIMES with details on how US economic and security policies have exacerbated the situation that forces people to flee their homes in Central America. -molly

Border Reflection – Support Non-violent solutions in Central American Countries. My thoughts on the Central American immigrant-refugee situation at the moment.

We need to deal with the immediate need, however, if we don’t deal with the systemic issues, the situation will only continue. First we need to stop contributing our (US) part- Corporations that use the land, cheap labor (including Maquilas), our cheap products sold to these countries (taking away their ability to make a living). Need to stop-Selling weapons, supporting bad leaders, US need for drugs. I know there are many other issues. What might be of help–The US supporting these countries to be self-sustaining economically and non-violent.

Debunking 8 Myths About Why Central American Children Are Migrating (In These Times)

Q & A with author Todd Miller

Todd Miller is  a Tucson-based freelance journalist who has covered the U.S.- Mexico border for the last 15 years for publications including The Nation, NACLA Report on the Americas, and Mother Jones. His first book, Border Patrol Nation: Dispatches from the Frontlines of Homeland Security explores border security post 9/11 and examines what he calls the “new world border.”  To learn more, visit his website.


You’ve been reporting about the border for several years now, what made you decide to focus on border patrol and what surprised you the most in your findings?

One of the first acts of journalism that I did was photograph a crew from the U.S. Army corps of engineers when they were building the wall between Douglas and Agua Prieta in the late 1990s. That was when Border Patrol was concentrating agents and technology, and building walls in the urban areas along the 2,000 mile U.S. Mexico border. Then in 2001 I was working for a binational organization in Tucson, Arizona and Nogales, Sonora when 9/11 hit. With this, I witnessed first hand the advent of the homeland security era of the Border Patrol. The results of this have been nothing less than startling.

For Border Patrol Nation, I interviewed public information officers in places like Puerto Rico, El Paso, Tucson, and Detroit. However, I also interviewed many individual agents who had a wide range of perspectives. I interviewed from the most gung-ho to those with serious critiques about the agency. I met their kids, and went to their homes. I found that most agents think that they are in an insular world, and nobody really understands what they do. Many feel they are criticized by all sides of the political spectrum. I felt like when I was able to humanize the agent, I was able to see that they were only a small part— though a powerful part—of a much bigger world. Border Patrolling has become an industry, a technological innovation, a problem to be “solved” by engineers. There are many, many people of all perspectives involved with this domestic national security monolith, of which Border Patrol by virtue of its uniformed presence is its most public face. That was one surprise. The other surprise was when this world revealed itself, I saw that it was much bigger, and had penetrated the country (and more and more the world) in more startling and powerful ways than I was even aware of. To find these angles became, in a sense, one of the prime missions of the book.

Could you explain what you mean by the “new world border”?

This term comes from a chapter where I spend quite a bit of time on the Dominican Haiti international boundary. There, before my eyes, was a rustic version of the U.S.-Mexico border. Along the Massacre River, which demarcates the divide between the two countries that share the same island, were protest barricades placed crookedly and serving as a rudimentary barricade. Behind the barricades the Dominican Border Patrol, known as CESFRONT, sat their Xs, watching their sections of border like agents in the United States. When I asked these Dominican agents if they had received training from the U.S. Border Patrol they said yes. Not only has there been training, but also the United States sent resources. In fact, the whole idea that the Dominican Republic needed its own border patrol came from a U.S. report issued in 2006. Turns out, the United States, and its Border Patrol, has done trainings across the globe in more than 100 different countries. And it further turns out that the global market for border security is in an “unprecedented growth period,” hundreds of billions of dollars potentially. From Asia to Africa, from the Middle East to southern Europe, from Brazil to Mexico’s southern border with Guatemala, hardened enforced boundaries are becoming the norm, particularly between the global south (and its different gradations—the Dominicans can police the Haitians, but the Dominicans need to be policed by the United States) with the global north. As former Customs and Border Protection chief David Aguilar said, Border Patrol’s work in the “hemisphere” is to protect “our way of life.”

You say that since 9/11,  Border Patrol has more than doubled its ranks, has roughly 21,000 agents nationwide and continues to expand. What do you see as the outcome of this growth and expansion?

At a recent community meeting on the Tohono O’odham Nation in southern Arizona the speaker—who was looking into Homeland Security abuse on the Nation–asked a group of approximately 100 O’odham seated there how many had been pulled over by the U.S. Border Patrol. For those that don’t know, the Tohono O’odham reservation shares a 70 mile border with Mexico, but their aboriginal land extend hundreds of miles into Mexico. When the borderline was drawn through its territory in 1853, the O’odham were not consulted. Yet, for years, and up until around 9/11 the O’odham simply ignored the boundary line, crossing back and forth to visit family, go to school, go to work, go to cultural and ceremonial sites. Up until the 1990s there was almost no Border Patrol presence (the agency began in 1924).

Now, at that community meeting, every single person raised their hand. Every single person had been pulled over, at least once, by Border Patrol. The degree of the shift of the Homeland Security presence on the Tohono O’odham Nation is a perfect reflection of Border Patrol growth. If you were to go to the O’odham reservation right now, you might see more green-striped Border Patrol vehicles, than normal ones. There are ATV and horse patrols. There are surveillance towers and surveillance drones overhead. There are Blackhawk helicopters and military style Forward Operating Bases.

People on the rez are complaining of tailgating, of Border Patrol spotlighting into their vehicles at night. People talk of interrogations, being pulled out of their cars, of being pepper sprayed. On all paved roads leading out of the reservation there are checkpoints: Heading west towards Phoenix in Gila Bend, Heading north to Casa Grand, Heading east to Tucson. If you speak the Tohono O’odham language to the agents, like Tohono O’odham member Ofelia Rivas, expect secondary and your car to be searched. You will be detained. This is one of the sharpest examples—but only one example of many– of the giant Homeland Security complex spreading across the country into many places—including places where it had very little presence before such as Rochester, New York or Erie, Pennsylvania. Since this type of expansion is basically unquestioned, unless more people step up and challenge it, we can only expect more of the same.

Could you talk more about the Border Patrol youth programs?

In every city and town on the southern U.S. border, and increasingly in the north are programs that the U.S. Border Patrol has with youth. One of these is called the Explorer program, which comes from the Boy Scouts of America. With the Border Patrol, teenagers learn handcuffing techniques and with “red guns” (fake guns) take down potential terrorists and other threats. They learn how to do interrogations (or “field interviews” as Border Patrol calls them) and to question people about their documents. When I met with the Explorer post in El Paso at dawn, they were doing uniform inspections, and then marched in lock step around the Border Patrol Training Center. The kids learn what it takes to become an agent. And, as many agents have pointed out, Border Patrol can identify possible recruits for an agency that is always expanding and always on the lookout for more agents.

But there is more to the creating of the fertile ground upon which the homeland security state can grow. As one of the agents working with the kids told me—it’s more than recruiting. He told me about the Thanksgiving parade in El Paso. He said that when the Border Patrol marched at that parade, they would get a mixed reaction at best. But, he said, a couple years ago the youth Explorer post began to march right along with them. The applause from the crowd was wild. The families, cousins, aunts, uncles, and friends of the kids were all in the audience. The kids, this agent told me, were “the key” to Border Patrol’s relationship with the community.

You write, “Predawn house raids have become a routine tactic for ICE, it’s a time when most people are at their most vulnerable: at home and unconscious.” Why do you think the Homeland Security agents have been using such tactics?

The predawn raid is a military tactic to get to somebody when they are at their most defenseless. The Cardozo Immigration Justice Clinic documents cases of ICE agents storming into people’s homes– in one occasion pulling the covers off of a sleeping woman, shining a bright flashlight into her face and her child’s face who began to wail in terror. In another incident, in Massachusetts, ICE agents kicked in the front door of a house, leaving splintered wooden fragments on the floor. Like in a war, they commanded every one to lie down and stay still. They shined bright lights directly into people’s faces. These tactics, and others– such as Border Patrol agents shooting into and killing people in Mexico—give credence to the idea that Homeland Security is acting in some sort of war posture, even in their domestic operations. The priority mission of Customs and Border Protection, for example, in the post 9/11 era is to stop “terrorists” and “weapons of mass destruction” from penetrating our borders. They are on the front lines, the rhetoric goes. They have lots of weaponry and high-powered and sophisticated surveillance equipment at their disposal. They have drones flying overhead, some with radar systems imported from U.S. war efforts in Afghanistan, such as the VADER system. They have high-tech war rooms with expensive video walls for “situational awareness.” The tactics of war are very much a part of today’s Homeland Security operations. Predawn raids are just one part of that.

What would you propose as a solution?

What I know, first and foremost, that a much more holistic dialogue is needed which includes a variety of voices such as those most impacted by the Border Patrol expansion like the Tohono O’odham people mentioned above. The notion, even the term “border security” I believe needs to be challenged. It implies that this expanding security monolith is indeed protecting “us” from some sort of ill-defined “them” who are out to get us. By far the brunt of Border Patrol arrests are of people who are coming north to find a job. People who probably didn’t want to leave their communities, their loved ones, the food that they eat, and the language that they speak, but felt their hand was forced by an untenable economic situation or a situation of spiraling violence and threat—or both—speaks to the need for a much more profound analysis around the immigration debate.

The fact that the immigration reform bill (passed in the Senate a year ago) is more than 1000 pages long– and with the Hoeven-Corker amendment includes a provision for $46 billion designated to “border security”–with no mention at all about, say, the impacts of the North American Free Trade Agreement in Mexico, seems like an omission of extraordinary proportions. If U.S. economic policy– or say a set of policies such as IMF structural adjustment (in effect in Mexico since 1982)–has anything at all to do with anyone losing their livelihood and having to move or migrate in order to find work, such policies need to be scrutinized. And this needs to be a part of any immigration reform debate. In the immigration debates, and thus the immigration reform bills, this part of it is so roundly ignored that to bring it up almost seems like you are coming from left field, and at times openly disdained.

However it was former INS chief Doris Meissner who argued to Congress in 1993—indeed she was arguing for the militarized border apparatus that we see now with Operations Hold-the-Line, Gatekeeper, and Safeguard—who said “Responding to the likely short- to medium-term impacts of NAFTA will require strengthening our enforcement efforts along the border.” Before it even happened, Meissner prophesied Mexico’s post-NAFTA exodus.

Right now economic systems in the world are structured in such a way that we are seeing unprecedented inequality, few extremely rich and many, many poor. The solution lies in a wider discussion that includes unprecedented world-wide inequality as an important reason why so many people are migrating and that treats cross-border immigration as an international issue.

With the constant talk of immigration reform, how do you hope your book will inform policy makers?

Border Patrol Nation offers a contribution to an ever-evolving landscape, and I hope it indeed will inform both our policy-makers and their constituents and at least contribute to a more robust debate. The idea that the debate around “border security” is one that occurs at the fringes has to stop. The idea that money is continually thrown to this border fortifying initiative without much debate at all needs to stop. If there’s one contribution that my book makes at this level, it is at the very least that this debate needs to happen. But I also hope the book drives home the point that this debate is also important to the very direction of our country and to what we are becoming.

If people were to take just one thing from this book, what do you think that should be?

Aren’t there much more important things—such as basic services like education, housing, or public transportation—where we can put the billions designated now to Homeland Security? If there is a security crisis in the United States it is that people are losing their homes, their jobs, their transportation. It is not from a non-existent terrorist lurking on the other side of an international boundary line.




Tamaulipas Violence Continues…AP

The AP reports on recent shootings in the state of Tamaulipas… the reports of violence in the AP story are from weeks ago. Below, a story from Mexican wires–at least 13 and possibly as many as 33 people have been killed in shootouts [on Tuesday] in the border city of Reynosa, Tamaulipas.

Click the hyperlinks below for the stories:

Spotlight On Mexico State After Violent Eruption (Associated Press)

Deja Al Menos 13 Muertos Racha De Tiroteos En Reynosa (El Diario)