FNS: Violence batters former Mexican showcase

Frontera NorteSur

A retired Mexican general took charge of security this week in the troubled Mexican
border state of Nuevo Leon, even as violent incidents continued to bloody the landscape.

On Monday, Feb. 27, four men were reported slain in two gangland-style incidents
in the state capital of Monterrey. A day earlier, on February 26, five young men were
massacred by gunmen in a single event shortly before noon in the nearby municipality of
Apodaca.

Citing unidentified neighbors, a Nuevo Leon state police source quoted in the
press said the five victims were murdered at a residence known for its sales of illegal
drugs.

Apodaca was also the scene of a bloody February 19 prison rampage in which 44
inmates, all purported members of the Gulf drug cartel, were  killed by rivals allegedly
belonging to the Zetas gang. The violence also served as a cover for the mass escape of
29 Zetas, according to media accounts.

Yet the slaughter at the penitentiary was only the latest in a series of forewarned prison
massacres in Mexico. Multiple reports portray warring groups of inmates running the
Apodaca  prison, a hot spot for drug dealing and consumption.

Nearly six months before the killings,  the parents of one  murdered Apodaca
prisoner, Mario Humberto Ramirez Calderon, unsuccessfully requested a transfer of their
son to another state prison because of the violence and extortion that the young man
suffered at the hands of other inmates. According to Ramirez’s parents, whose real
names were omitted from a news story due to security concerns, visits to their son
quickly  revealed other prisoners in charge of the institution.

“In Apodaca, there was a person seated at each access point with a notebook and a pen
writing down the movements of people-where they were going, who it was and how
many there were” Ramirez’s mother was quoted.  “(Note-takers) weren’t guards, they
were prisoners.”

Recognizing the need for a profound transformation of the state prison
system,  Nuevo Leon Governor Rodrigo Medina de la Cruz admitted this week
that many inmates enter prison uninvolved with organized criminal groups but leave
the system as members of gangs.

As part of a shuffle of local security personnel, General Javier del Real Magallanes has
been named the new state secretary of public safety. Previous to his appointment, the
former defense official headed the 4th Military Region based in Monterrey from October
2006 to November 2008 before moving on to a job as undersecretary of planning and
institutional protection for the Federal Secretariat of Public Safety

Nuevo Leon’s new security chief vowed to use “all the force of the State” to bring
security to his jurisdiction.

In his long military career,  del Real Magallanes  served as a military attaché in
several Central American nations, directed Mexico’s National Defense College and
commanded the 2nd Military Region in Baja California and Sonora.

Once considered a showcase of modern Mexican capitalism,  Monterrey and its
surrounding area have been sunk in violence during the past five years. At least 2,000
violent crimes have been registered within the past year alone.

With an estimated population of 4.5 million and the third largest metro zone in Mexico,
Monterrey offers strategic vantage points to the U.S. border, as well as brisk domestic
markets for illegal drugs, money-laundering, prostitution, gambling, and contraband
products of all types.

Sources: La Jornada, February 28, 2012. Article by Maria Alejandra Arroyo. Excelsior.
com, February 28, 2012. La Opinion/EFE, February 27, 2012. Mexico.cnn.com,
February 27, 2012. Article by Juan Alberto Cedillo.  Proceso/Apro,  February
25 and 27, 2012. Articles by Luciano Campos Garza and editorial staff. 

Frontera NorteSur: on-line, U.S.-Mexico border news
Center for Latin American and Border Studies
New Mexico State University
Las Cruces, New Mexico

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