Author Topic: Mexico-US matters  (Read 392395 times)

Crafty_Dog

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FO: Mexico strengthening ties with China
« Reply #1050 on: May 13, 2024, 09:22:10 AM »
a) raw ingredients for fentanyl;

b) 50k and on way to 125K by year's end of Chinese MAMs (Military Aged Males);

c) now this:

"China and Mexico conducted their first direct flight on Sunday with both Ambassadors in tow. The Chinese Ambassador to Mexico said this will facilitate economic and personnel ties between China and all of Latin America."


Crafty_Dog

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The Americas
Brodie Kirkpatrick, Expeditionary Intelligence

Political Violence in Mexico at Historical High as Elections Draw Closer

As Mexico prepares for a general election next month, political violence has plagued the nation at all levels. Many candidates have been killed, injured, otherwise threatened, or withdrawn from their races.


Introduction

Throughout the month of May, multiple media outlets reported that violence in Mexico leading up to this June’s general election is the highest it has been in recent history. More than two dozen candidates for various offices have been killed leading up to the June 2 vote; hundreds have dropped out of races. Additionally, hundreds of others have asked the federal government for security details. The goal of armed groups is to install corrupted or coerced leaders in local offices so they can better exploit Mexican communities.

Once largely focused on shipping drugs to the United States, the cartels now also smuggle migrants, extort businesses, and win contracts for firms they control.

Cartels have focused most of their efforts on local politics in influential states vying to control things like municipal police, public works, and many other essential departments of state and local governments. This strategy makes controlling mayoral offices crucial, however, despite the large focus on local municipalities, candidates for governor and senate seats are also at high risk. Cartels have targeted candidates from all of Mexico’s major parties. In Maravatío, a municipality of 80,000 in the central state of Michoacan, three candidates for mayor have been killed; two from Morena, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador party, and one from the opposition National Action Party, or PAN. Carlos Palomeque, head of the PAN in Chiapas, says nearly two dozen mayoral candidates from the party have dropped out of their races. It used to be that the cartels bought off voters, he says. Now, “they force candidates from the race. It’s cheaper.”

López Obrador accuses the opposition and media of exaggerating the violence in states across Mexico to discredit his efforts against organized crime. Yet even López Obrador’s protégé, presidential front-runner Claudia Sheinbaum, was stopped by masked men last month in a region of the state controlled by the Sinaloa cartel. The men warned her to “remember the poor people” and waved her through their checkpoint.

Can President Lopez Obrador End Mexico's Drug War?
Despite AMLO’s claims of exaggeration, just in the past 45 days, front-running mayoral candidates in influential states such as Guanajuato, Chiapas, Puebla, and Tabasco have been killed by gunmen. The most notable of those killed was Carlos Narvaez Romero, a member of the Grupo Tabasco, a collective of politicians and influential Mexican business owners closely aligned with President AMLO such as Adán Augusto López, former Secretary of the Interior, Octavio Romero Oropeza, general director of Petróleos Mexicanos (PEMEX), Javier May, Morena candidate to the governorship of said entity, as well as Rafael Marín Mollinedo, Mexico's ambassador to the World Trade Organization (WTO), who was also head of the National Customs Agency. Romero was slated to succeed the former head of customs who was killed in 2022. 

Analyst Comment

While political violence is nothing new for Mexico, this election season has proven to be the most violent in recent history. Despite having high political violence, Mexico’s non-state actors vying for influence are not stoking the violence to eventually conduct a coup. Adversely, the cartels want control and to be able to operate behind the scenes with impunity without being thrust into the spotlight of the international stage. Traditionally, cartels have paid off, blackmailed, or coerced officials. However, the recent uptick in violence may signal a change in the modus operandi while also highlighting the lack of control the government has over the situation. To further cement this, cartels have consistently proven to the public that if they speak out against the violence they will likely be tracked, kidnapped, tortured, and/or killed without recourse from authorities as there are multiple accounts of this. Beyond the uptick in violence, the profile of the individuals murdered such as Carlos Romero who was slated to be the next head of customs for the entirety of Mexico has also raised much concern of whether an end to this violence is in sight or if this will be the normal for upcoming elections. Going into the June elections the possibility for violence remains extremely high and is likely to worsen.

Crafty_Dog

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WSJ on the Mexican Election
« Reply #1052 on: May 20, 2024, 07:55:19 AM »


The Election Stakes in Mexico
The big question: Will the ruling Morena party get a large enough legislative majority to rewrite the constitution?
By
The Editorial Board
Follow
May 19, 2024 4:57 pm ET

Mexicans vote to elect a new President on June 2, not that you’d know it from the lack of American media coverage of our southern neighbor. But the stakes are high, and the biggest question is whether the ruling Morena party of current President Andrés Manuel López Obrador will be able to move closer to his vision of a one-party state.

AMLO, as the President is known, is term limited and won’t be on the ballot. But his handpicked Morena successor, former Mexico City mayor Claudia Sheinbaum, is leading in the polls and pledges to continue his agenda of leftwing nationalist economics and eliminating constitutional checks and balances.

Opposition candidate Xóchitl Gálvez is a former National Action Party (PAN) senator. She’s running on an ideologically diverse coalition ticket that includes the leftwing Party of the Democratic Revolution, the centrist PRI and the center-right PAN. The parties have united in concern about a Sheinbaum presidency that could have AMLO pulling the political strings behind the throne.

Entrepreneurship, business competition, strong property rights and open markets are Gálvez campaign themes that set her apart from Ms. Sheinbaum and AMLO. Ms. Gálvez wants Mexico to live up to its free-trade commitments under the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement and insists the U.S. do the same. On a visit to the Journal in February, she said that as president she would seek closer cooperation with the U.S. on economic and security matters. Ms. Gálvez’s Mexico would be an ally of the West.

This would break with Mr. López Obrador’s foreign policy. He’s been using migration as a bargaining chip with the Biden Administration to ward off U.S. action under USMCA to force Mexico to stop discriminating against foreign energy investors.

AMLO’s Mexico is an ally of Venezuela and Cuba and home to large numbers of Russian intelligence agents, according to U.S. Northern Command in 2022. He claims to follow a policy of not intervening in other countries, but three of his ambassadors have been declared persona non grata for meddling in support of the left in Bolivia, Peru and Ecuador.

Cartel violence and extortion have long scarred Mexico, but they have spiked under AMLO. Mexico isn’t a failed state, at least not yet, but narcos now control large swaths of the country. The AMLO government has used financial investigations and confidential tax records against political adversaries. All of this has undermined the rule of law.

One irony is that AMLO is popular because Mexico has benefited from freer trade and the market reforms of his predecessors. Investment has flowed in as manufacturers seek to set up plants to serve the huge North American market. The Mexican peso has strengthened to nearly 17 to the U.S. dollar from more than 20 in 2018. Real wages are up and job creation is robust.

But AMLO’s policies put this economic progress at risk. The government forecasts a fiscal deficit of 5.9% of GDP this year despite a growing economy. It hopes to cut the deficit in half by 2025 with spending cuts that could easily turn out to be unrealistic. Pro-growth policies aren’t part of the Morena agenda, which favors heavy government spending and national corporate monopolies.

Mr. López Obrador is hoping that Ms. Sheinbaum wins with a big enough margin to carry Morena to two-thirds majorities in both legislative chambers. That would clear the way to amend the constitution and reverse the 2014 opening of Mexico’s energy markets, erode the independence of the Supreme Court and electoral authorities, and eliminate independent regulators. Morena now has simple majorities in both chambers and AMLO has used them to gradually change the Supreme Court.

High voter turnout would help Ms. Gálvez, who is trailing in most polls by double digits. AMLO’s government is using its media allies to claim the election is already over. But sampling bias and the potential of a large hidden vote could still produce a surprise. The future of Mexican democracy may depend on maintaining a check on AMLO’s designs

Body-by-Guinness

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Cartel Book Review
« Reply #1053 on: May 21, 2024, 01:56:13 PM »
Fills in some blanks re the various, competing Mexican cartels:

SWJ El Centro Book Review – CJNG: A Quick Guide to Mexico's Deadliest Cartel

John P. Sullivan

CJNG Quick Guide
Chris Dalby, CJNG: A Quick Guide to Mexico's Deadliest Cartel. Virtual: World of Crime, 2024 [ISBN:  978-9083423913 paperback, 978-9083423906 eBook, 170 Pages]

The Cártel de Jalisco Nueva Generación (CJNG), or Jalisco New Generation Cartel is one of Mexico’s major criminal cartels. It is locked into a major contest for dominance of Mexico’s illicit economy with the Sinaloa Cartel (Cártel de Sinaloa). Indeed this competition is increasingly global and involves numerous smaller conflicts with other rival cartels and gangs in Mexico and beyond. Both the CJNG and CDS, Mexico’s largest criminal groups, exercise territorial control and criminal governance and effectively rule over large segments of Mexico’s populace, economy (markets), and spaces. This places the CJNG in direct confrontation with its criminal rivals and the state in the areas it controls or seeks to control. This contest for power and profit is often punctuated by violence. It is also colored by myth and misunderstanding of the nature of these contests,

Chris Dalby, a seasoned journalist, formerly with InSight Crime, has analyzed Mexico’s criminal landscape along with its crime wars and criminal insurgencies for many years. Now Director of World of Crime, a think tank based in the Netherlands with a global virtual remit, has published a resource guide capturing the salient aspects of the CJNG story. The guide, CJNG: A Quick Guide to Mexico's Deadliest Cartel, is built upon years of field work, research, and reportage.

Early Days

After a brief introduction, the text is divided into thirteen substantiative chapters followed by a list of “essential resources.” Each chapter describes a distinct aspect of the CJNG’s activities, from their economic ventures to their threats and a description of their geographic reach.

The first topical chapter, “The CJNG’s Origins,” looks at the foundation of the CJNG in the Milenio Cartel under Armando Valencia Cornelio, briefly recounting the early links to the so-called Guadalajara Cartel under Miguel Ángel Félix Gallardo, and influence of Pablo Escobar and the Colombian Medellín Cartel. These early seeds set the stage for the rise of “El Mencho” or Nemesio Oseguera Cervantes the CJNG’s founder and current leader. This emergence is punctuated by the rise of “avocadonomics” or the boom in avocados as a cash crop that became integral to Michoacán’s economy and ripe for exploitation by the CJNG.

The next chapter, “The CJNG’s Many, Many Wars,” recounts criminal conflicts with a number of groups, including the Cárteles Unidos and La Familia Michoacana in Michoacán, the Gulf Cartel in Tamaulipas and Veracruz, the Mezcales in Coloma, the Cártel de Santa Rosa de Lima (CSRL) in Guanajuato, and the Zetas Vieja Escuela in Tamaulipas. This is followed by “The Matazetas,” which examines the story of a counterforce to the Zetas that many report as a part of the emergence of the CJNG. Yet, the true story is more nuanced and complicated.

The Cult of El Mencho

The next chapter details the emergence of “The Cult of El Mencho.” Nemesio Oseguera Cervantes, aka “Mencho,” is the notorious leader of the CJNG.  El Mencho eschewed the mantle of social bandit, cultivated by Sinaloa kingpin El Chapo Guzmán, and “Cultivated an aura of fear, devotion and anonymity.”(p. 50) This section recounts Mencho’s early years, when he was connected to the Valencia family and the Milenio cartel; his time in the United States (both in California and in federal prison in Texas); and his return to Mexico where he became a cop, before he reconnected with the Valencia Family and the Milenio Cartel in time for the war with Los Zetas.

The Rise and Fall of the Cuinis and the Next Generation

The legacy of "Los Cuinis” is told in “The Rise and Fall of the Cuinis” which describes the symbiotic relationship between the CJNG and the Cuinis, led by Mencho’s brother-in-law known as “El Cuini.” This group, or faction, were dominated by the González Valencia family. Money laundering, funding expansion into the global methamphetamine trade were hallmarks of the Los Cuini era. After several notable arrests the Cuini power faded. The next chapter “The Next Generation of CJNG Leaders” assesses potential successors to “El Mencho” amid speculation that he is seriously ill and dying or already dead (his actual fate is unknown at the time of this book’s release and this review).

Money Laundering and Branding

“The CJNG’s Money laundering Empire” looks at the financial services component of the CJNG. From front businesses to real estate transaction, trade-based money laundering helps convert the profits from the global meth, fentanyl, and heroin trade into portable capital. The early rise of this business center to its connections to the Chinese shadow banking system and use of Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies is briefly reviewed before turning to public affairs. “The CJNG’s Gift for Public Relations” examines the CJNG’s use of social media—including generating a fan base and associated trademark “purple devil” (😈) emoji—and propaganda are described emphasizing “narcoculture,” machismo, hyper-violence, battle images, and cults of personality to reinforce the CJNG brand.

Synthetic Pharma, Other Profit Centers, and Geospatial Reach

The next two chapters focus on the CJG trade in illicit pharma or drugs. “The CJNG and Methamphetamine” sets the stage with a description of the cartel’s innovation in producing its own product through a network of meth labs to form a power base. The global connections derived from this endeavor were the foundation for the next phase, fentanyl. “The CJNG and Fentanyl” describes the growth and current state of the fentanyl trade and its impact in Mexico. The next chapter, “How Else Does the CJNG Make Money?” Looks at the Avocado trade, Extortion, Fuel Theft (Huachicoleo), Illegal Fishing, Illegal Logging and Timber Trafficking, Migrant Smuggling, and Timeshare Fraud. The final two chapters” “Where is the CJNG in Mexico” and “The CJNG Across the Americas” briefly ok at the CJNG presence in each of Mexico’s states and Mexico City (CDMX) and the United States, Canada, Colombia, Ecuador, and Guatemala. The text ends with a short list of reference resources.

Assessing the Text

CJNG: A Quick Guide to Mexico's Deadliest Cartel is a quick read. While it is not a comprehensive account of the CJNG, an exhaustive investigative account, and in-depth ethnology or political economic assessment, it provides an accessible, synopsis of the CJNG’s rise, operational context, and geographic reach. While specialists may miss detailed accounts of social network analysis and conflict analysis, both specialists and generalists will find this an accessible and succinct overview of the CJNG’s major characteristics. Journalists and senior leaders seeking to prepare themselves to understand current events and more detailed research and operational analyses will likely find this a good primer or “essential A–Z” on the Jalisco New Generation Cartel’s background. The author states that this is the first of many potential World of Crime “quick guides” with future volumes on the Tren de Aragua an the Chapitos in preparation. I look forward to seeing those released as companions to this text.

Categories: El Centro
About the Author(s)

John P. Sullivan
Dr. John P. Sullivan was a career police officer. He is an honorably retired lieutenant with the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, specializing in emergency operations, transit policing, counterterrorism, and intelligence. He is currently an Instructor in the Safe Communities Institute (SCI) at the Sol Price School of Public Policy, University of Southern California. Sullivan received a lifetime achievement award from the National Fusion Center Association in November 2018 for his contributions to the national network of intelligence fusion centers. He completed the CREATE Executive Program in Counter-Terrorism at the University of Southern California and holds a Bachelor of Arts in Government from the College of William and Mary, a Master of Arts in Urban Affairs and Policy Analysis from the New School for Social Research, and a PhD from the Open University of Catalonia (Universitat Oberta de Catalunya). His doctoral thesis was “Mexico’s Drug War: Cartels, Gangs, Sovereignty and the Network State.” He can be reached at jpsullivan@smallwarsjournal.com.

https://smallwarsjournal.com/jrnl/art/swj-el-centro-book-review-cjng-quick-guide-mexicos-deadliest-cartel