Since President Obama’s re-election, we’ve heard nothing about Operation Fast and Furious, the ATF gun running program that armed the Sinaloa cartel with U.S. gun store guns. Nor have details of other pro-cartel black bag jobs emerged; including the DEA’s drug money-laundering “sting” and the CIA’s ongoing presence south of the border. Meanwhile, billions of dollars flows into the hands of Mexican narco-terrorists and the cartels’ rape, torture, intimidation, corruption and killing continues. Denied their Constitutional right to keep and bear arms, Mexico’s citizens are at the cartels’ mercy—a characteristic of which they have none. Innocent Mexicans are dying in droves. As stratfor.com reports, Enrique Pena Nieto’s election promises no respite from corruption and murder. In fact, things are bound to get worse . . .
To the point where Mexicans are wondering if the brutality and horror experienced during the Calderon administration will seem like the good old days. Here’s a piece republished with permission from borderlandbeat.com that raises the alarm about a new killing field, a stone’s throw from the Lone Star State. It concludes with a wistful hat tip to Calderon. Yup, it’s that bad.
Piedras Negras has become a hot spot in the Mexican drug war. The Mexican city shares a border with Eagle Pass Texas. Logistically sitting in a prime location at the POE into Texas in Northeastern Coahuila and connects with many major highways running through the south, west, east of Mexico feeding into Piedras and into the US.
Zetas and government forces have intensified presence, complicated by the apparent growing presence of the Sinaloa Cartel. Last week both Federal Police and the Coahuila GATES agency sent additional convoys of troops to the area, focusing in Piedras Negras.
The Zetas Cartel have enjoyed a comfortable presense and control of the state of Coahuila since they split from the Golfo Cartel in 2010. Golfos, also known as CDG, can take “credit” for the creation of the violent Zetas as they recruited the group as an enforcer wing of CDG together the two groups called themselves “La Compañía”.
Until the split, La Compañía controlled the state of Coahuila. After the split Zetas gained control of the majority of the state. Seemingly, with collusion from Saltillo, the media and municipalities.
It is surreal to live in a Coahuila city where everyone knows who the Zs are, where they live, where safe houses are, easy to spot halcones, and just about anyone can take a visitor to places such as staging lots filled with stolen boats, and vehicles of all types, mostly with Texas license plates. But, few speak of it, paralyzed by fear. That is changing, slowly but steadily people are beginning to speak of it with friends. But the openess of narco activity exists and has changed little.
It seems the new governor does not want to be completely married to the Zs, or perhaps wants an open marriage of sorts. That sparked the struggle that was inevitable when a party refuses to play ball within Zetas rules.
Ruben Moriera, is the current governor. Ruben is the brother of Humberto Moreira, former governor who resigned to make a successful run for the chairmanship of the PRI party. Only to resign in disgrace when improprieties were made public of missing Coahuila funds.
Much is spoken about Humberto’s governorship and agreements he made with the Zetas. Violence was abound but few spoke about the many “disappeared” or dead, including the Coahuila press of which the Moreira’s have a large investment in newspaper and radio outlets. Zetas have the last say of what narco news regional newspapers run. For the killings reported, many times more go unreported. The fact of the matter is that Coahuila has never maintained an official count of drug deaths or disappearances.
Because of the lack of media coverage and official counts, estimation is the method used to tally deaths and kidnappings. The government of Mexico has concluded that Coahuila may have the most “missing” persons, a reasonable person would insist surely it is one of the top 3 or 4 states that have high numbers of kidnapped persons never to be seen again.
If one looks at the Coahuila map it reflects a large land mass, but it has a small population rendering large masses of land that are vacant undeveloped and many prime locations to dump bodies.
In Acuña, in one violent week while Humberto was governor, terror gripped the city, as kidnappings and killings erupted in a narco rampage. Buildings and homes burned to the ground-fire fighters were warned not to attempt to extinguish the fires, or pay with their lives-the chief of police was killed left with a narco message in the parking lot of a large candy warehouse, torched and destroyed.
Though citizens witnessed the violence around the city, not a word of the violence was reported on the radio, television or Coahuila newspapers. For three days, no reporting then finally a report of the chief, but little else. Fast forward to October 2012, the night of Lalo Moreira’s murder. Lalo [above] is Humberto’s son. Hours after the murder four men were killed and thrown into the Bravo, on the Acuña side of the river.
One victim was not dead and though handcuffed managed to drift to the Del Rio side of the river where Border Patrol watching the events unfold, rescued the man and took him to the hospital. Upon his release he was kept in GEO for deportation processing. The name he gave was “Jesus Piña”. A strange thing: Jesus is a dead ringer for Victor Sifueñtes- the police supervisor wanted for Lalo’s murder- and when parties connected to the “Jesus” case were shown Victor’s photo they made a positive ID.
Victor disappeared directly after “finding” Lalo’s corpse and was on the run for weeks. “Jesus” was deported, then Victor was apprehended in the Coahuila city of Monclova.. When he was picked up Victor’s face still bore the injuries and scabbing consistent with Jesus’ injuries sustained from his late night encounter in the Bravo, just hours after Lalo’s killing.
None of this was reported in Mexican news. However, the story of the 4 bodies dumped in the Bravo was in the Del Rio Herald, stating the bodies were dumped on the Acuna side. Four bodies and not a word written about it in Coahuila nor Mexico. It is evident that Coahuila is no better off with Rueben Moreira. Corruption is still very much alive and thriving in Coahuila.
Ruben made the decision to send forces and fortify the border town of Piedras Negras. Zs did not take kindly to that action, and successfully executed a mass prison escape from the Piedras Prison of 131 inmates. When most inmates stayed close to and in the area it was obvious they were freed to defend Zeta ground.
About and hour west of Piedras lies the border town of Acuña, adjacent to Del Rio Texas. It was in this relatively peaceful city that all hell broke loose, pitting governor on governor, brothers on brother, split a powerful family, killed a nephew in retribution for the GATES killing of the nephew of Miguel Treviño aka Z40 leader of the Zetas.
In early October in a conflict with GATES 4 gunmen were killed in Piedras Negras. One of the dead gunmen was the nephew of Miguel Trevino, his name; Alejandro Treviño Chavez. This incensed Z40 who ordered a hit on one of the Moreira family members.
Banners began appearing in the region almost immediately. This was confirmed by Carlos younger brother Ruben and Humberto. The banners warned “Family for Family” and were signed Z40. Jose Eduardo Moreira was the most vulnerable. He was the son of Humberto and known as “Lalo”. Lalo lived in Acuña with his wife and infant son, he was 25 years old.
His dead body was found in his truck 24 hours after Z40s nephew was killed in Piedras. The absence of Ruben at Lalo’s funeral brought to light the severity of the estrangement of the once close brothers. Followed by accusations by the young widow holding the governor culpable in the death of her husband.
Stating that Ruben knew of the warnings and did nothing to protect Lalo, even though he knew he was defenseless as one month prior Lalo’s armor truck and state police body guards were taken from him with the governors order for the municipal police to fill the roll of body guards. Ironic, as it was the police chief, and supervisor on duty that were two of the 6 men suspected of Lalo’s murder, the chief has already confessed to the killing.
If the relationship between the two governors ever had a chance in hell of mending after that, the fate was sealed when Ruben said it was El Lazca, the other premier leader of the Zetas at the time of Lalo’s death, as the one who ordered the Lalo’s murder. Convenient, since Lazcano is now deceased. Ruben announced the “case closed”.
No one believed the governor’s announcement and the action incensed the Humberto Moreira family further. This time Lalo’s younger brother took to Twitter to accuse his uncle Ruben of being a liar.
In the weeks that followed, police and army presence increased in Acuña and Piedras, Zetas retreated from Acuña seemingly to concentrate on Piedras. Meanwhile as this heavy deployment in to the area by federal and state forces with the intent to fight off the Zetas and maintain peace, rumors of CDS presense growing both in Acuña and Piedras. The rumors have been persistent.
Two weeks ago narcomantas (narco-banners) began flooding Coahuila. In the banners they accuse two men of being free to conduct narco business with the blessing of the federal police in Piedras. The men are identified as member of the Golfo cartel. Sinaloa and Golfo have an alliance. So if this is all true, and it appears so, what he have is a war zone with federal and state forces, and three cartels. Is it any wonder if some are suggesting that Piedras is the new Juarez?
Take a look at the Brewster County Sheriff’s office entry on their FB page this week [above]. Although it says Acuña, I am certain it is meant to read “Piedras Negras”. The men in the photo were the accused killers of Lalo upon the transfer to the Acuña prison from Saltillo this past week. The one on the left is Victor Sifueñtes, the police supervisor who “found” the body, and suspected of his murder.
The elements are in place for Piedras and Acuña to become the hotbed of the drugwar violence. Much will depend on the Peña administration taking over in December. He has contradictions in explaining his vague “plan”. It would be a waste of over 100K drugwar deaths if lessons were not learned and taken into the new administration.
There were many lessons available from the Juarez tragedy. Let’s hope they are applicable in the strategy of Piedras Negras and other hot spots so we will never reach a point of being able to declare a city as having “8 Murders a Day”. Let’s hope those deaths were not completely in vain.
I have written about President Calderon sometimes not in a favorable light, but I ever thought he was not brave, nor honorable, nor the one and only hope Mexico has ever had. His downfall was perhaps his stubbornness, and inability to adapt, sticking with plans that fail without making changes.
I think it is unfair to speak of him as the Death President. I think no matter who was in office the numbers would have escalated, because the playing field has changed. Many groups, gangs and smaller cartels have evolved, all wanting a piece of the plaza. There are more players, more players result in more deaths. One can easily argue a case that Calderon kept the number down from what it would have been.
But he was the first, and the first is seldom the best. However, if I am to be honest he was the best that Mexico ever voted into office. No doubt in my mind about that.