The Mexican Cartels vs. a Mormon Sect: Behind the Horrific Massacre of American Moms and Children
“It couldn’t have been a mistake,” said a prominent member of the LeBaron family. “This is terrorism, plain and simple.”
In a massacre that shocked people around the world, three American women and six children were slaughtered by drug cartel sicarios in northern Mexico on Monday. They were killed in broad daylight while traveling in a convoy of SUVs. Several of them, including infant twins, burned to death when one of the cars exploded. Six more children were wounded.
More than 24 hours after the attack, Mexican security forces have not identified which drug cartel was responsible for the killing. What is known is that the victims, members of the extended LeBaron family with dual U.S.-Mexican nationality, were part of a Mexico-based offshoot of the Mormon church whose leaders have defied violent drug cartels in the past.
Mexican Security Secretary Alfonso Durazo has suggested that the victims, who were driving on a rural road in Sonora near the border of the state of Chihuahua and not far south of Arizona, may have been mistaken for a rival gang or even caught in the crossfire between warring groups.
There are many of those.
https://www.pressherald.com/2019/11/06/ ... -violence/
U.S. victims in Mexico massacre were tied to family with long history of violence
They were members of one of the scattered communities of breakaway Mormons who settled in Mexico more than a century ago to escape persecution.
I didn't know anything about the murders in Houston before Tex sent me the utterly shocking 1989 article. I do know what the cartels are capable of in these times. I can't help thinking it could go either way with this story.
Jebus, it just keeps getting weirder.
Mexican slaughter victims were from NXIVM recruiting ground
The nine U.S. citizens slaughtered in an ambush Monday were from a Mormon community in northern Mexico where NXIVM recruited teenagers for a "girls school" to live in the Capital Region under the care of a high-ranking "slave" for Keith Raniere.
The Mormon community’s ties to the disgraced NXIVM leader's cult-like organization were revealed in May during the testimony of NXIVM defector Mark Vicente, a filmmaker based in Los Angeles who once lived in Knox Woods, the same Halfmoon townhouse complex as Raniere.
The nine women and children killed -- including eight-month-old twins -- were traveling in a mountainous area where the notorious Sinaloa drug cartel has been waging a turf war. The victims were related to the extended LeBaron family community in the state of Chihuahua. ...
Raniere secretly operated a"master/slave" group known as DOS or “Dominus Obsequious Sororium," which translates from Latin as "Lord/Master of the Obedient Female Companions." Under the orders of Raniere, the "Grand Master," women in DOS were starved on 500-calorie-a-day diets and forced to provide "collateral" in the form of sexually explicit photos or false information about themselves and their family to ensure their loyalty. They also were required to have Raniere's initials branded onto their pelvic areas by a person using a cauterizing pen.
New York Times - Bret Stephens
How to reverse Mexico's slide into a failed state ...
But the reason the killings really matter is that they are yet another reminder that Mexico is on a fast track toward becoming a failed state.
For this, blame a combination of managerial incompetence and ideological inanity from Donald Trump and his Mexican counterpart, Andres Manuel López Obrador. In 2015, I asked then-candidate Trump whether he feared that his protectionist policies would hurt Mexico in ways that ultimately would hurt the United States as well. His reply: “I don’t care about Mexico, honestly. I really don’t care about Mexico.”
Since then, Trump has forced a dubious renegotiation of NAFTA but has yet to get the new trade agreement ratified in Congress, causing business uncertainties that have brought the Mexican economy to the edge of recession. It took the administration more than a year to replace its ambassador in Mexico, after the last one resigned in disgust. And Trump’s insistence that Mexico militarize its southern border with Guatemala has drained its army of the manpower it needs to fight the drug cartels. ...
If Trump’s actions have been damaging, López Obrador’s have been disastrous.
His slogan in the face of cartel violence is “hugs, not bullets.” His strategy has been to increase spending on social programs while urging gangsters to think of their mothers. He has claimed, preposterously, that crime is under control and still insists he has no intention of rethinking his approach. In the Culiacán fiasco, he praised the decision to release El Chapo’s son while ordering the disclosure of the officer’s name who had ordered the operation, endangering the man’s life. Much of the army officer corps now openly reviles their commander in chief.
A parody of a policy has produced a predictable result: 2019 is on course to become Mexico’s most violent year in decades, with about 17,000 killings between January and June. In sheer numbers, that’s a figure that exceeds the civilian death toll in Iraq at the height of war in 2006.
So what could work? A conversation with a former senior U.S. intelligence official suggests a bracing analogy.
Five-hundred years ago, two men met and changed much of the world forever.
About 500 Spanish conquistadors — ragged from skirmishes, a massacre of an Indigenous village and a hike between massive volcanoes — couldn't believe what they saw: an elegant island city in a land that Europeans didn't know existed until a few years before.
"It was all so wonderful that I do not know how to describe this first glimpse of things never heard of, seen or dreamed of before," wrote conquistador Bernal Díaz del Castillo.
The date was Nov. 8, 1519. Bernal's leader, Hernán Cortés, walked them down a causeway leading into the Aztec capital, Tenochtitlán, and was greeted by this land's most powerful man: Emperor Montezuma II. (Montezuma was Mexica, but the term Aztec is often used to denote the triple alliance of civilizations that made up his empire.)
According to Cortés, Montezuma immediately recognized the divine right of the Spanish and the Catholic Church to rule these lands and he surrendered his empire.
But according to historian Matthew Restall, author of the book When Montezuma Met Cortés, this is simply wrong.
Mexico City’s ‘walking fish’
While gaining traction as a symbol of Mexico City, these curious amphibians offer hope for healing the human body, but face near extinction in the wild.
Frankie was missing half his face. A fungal infection had come over the little axolotl, a native amphibian of the waterways of Mexico City.
But Frankie, along with other axolotls, have a special talent. Veterinarian and axolotl researcher Erika Servín Zamora, who was also Frankie’s caregiver, said she was astounded to see the animal’s remarkable regeneration abilities that she’d read about in her studies. Within two months, Frankie had grown a new, fully functional eye, and life was back to normal in his tank at the city’s Chapultepec Zoo.
Frankie might not have been so lucky in his native habitat, just about 30km south of the zoo. The axolotl, though gaining traction as a symbol of Mexico City, and specifically of the southern borough of Xochimilco, a Unesco World Heritage site, is nearly extinct in the wild due to increases in invasive fish species and water pollution in the city’s troubled canals. Making things worse, Frankie is an albino axolotl, which means he’s light pink with frilly, pink gills coming off his head – he’d be easy prey for Xochimilco’s invasive tilapia in the dark, murky waters.
Known locally as “water monsters”, axolotls have a love-them-or-leave-them appearance. For some, these 20cm-long, soft-skinned, water dwellers are considered adorable, with the appearance of a perpetual smile. For others, these four-toed amphibians are just plain odd.
Despite their somewhat polarising looks, they are of particular interest to scientists hoping that axolotls like Frankie just might teach us humans the regeneration trick someday.
“Scientists are looking to benefit from the regenerative properties of axolotls by applying them to people who are injured in accidents, wars or suffering illness – people who lose limbs,” Servín Zamora said. “Others are looking for ways that axolotl regeneration can benefit human organs, such as by healing the heart or the liver.”
Mexico's economy has not been this weak relative to the US since the 'Tequila crisis' in the 1990s
The Mexican and the U.S. economies have historically grown or declined in tandem, but not this year.
Revised data released Monday by Mexico's National Institute of Statistics and Geography showed the country's economy contracted by about 0.1% for three straight quarters before flat lining in the third trimester of 2019. Bank of America Merrill Lynch economist Carlos Capistran referred to that economic slump as a "technical recession."
Mexico's economic slowdown is unusual because the U.S. economy is still growing. The last Mexican economic recession that was not accompanied by a U.S. slowdown took place in the 1990s during the so-called Tequila Crisis, Capistran points out.
The Tequila Crisis refers to a collapse in the Mexican peso against the dollar sparked by a violent uprising in Southern Mexico and the assassination of a presidential candidate in 1994. Those events increased the risk premium on Mexican assets, including the peso and weighed on the country's economy. ...
Trade with the U.S. is critical for the Mexican economy. Last year, Mexico exported $265 billion in goods to the U.S. and imported $346.5 billion, according to data from the U.S. Trade Representative's office.
The narcos must be so askeered
Trump plan to label Mexico cartels as terror groups defies logic, experts say
Analysts say designation would be largely cosmetic as the already illegitimate groups are driven by money, not politics
Mexican drug cartel thugs have hanged bodies from bridges, set fire to crowded buildings and tossed hand grenades into crowds.
But Donald Trump’s decision to designate the cartels as foreign terrorist organisations (FTOs) has been questioned by experts, who argue that the move’s main impact would be cosmetic – although it might provide a pretext for possible US military incursions.
Tom Long, an international relations lecturer at the University of Warwick, argued that although organised crime groups often use terror tactics to impose control, they cannot be conflated with militants who seek political power.
“Their primary motivation is not to achieve political change – it’s to make money,” said Long. “In order to make money, they corrupt and intimidate political actors and political institutions – but it’s a byproduct of their main objective.” ...
Strategies to establish the rule of law have eluded three presidents since the then president, Felipe Calderón, declared war on drug cartels in December 2006. Attempts at decapitating the cartels by capturing or killing leaders – the so-called “kingpin strategy” – have only unleashed more violence as underlings fight over the spoils.
At least 21 killed in bloody gunfights in northern Mexico
The violence comes days after President Trump said he planned to designate the cartels as terrorist organizations.
MEXICO CITY - At least 17 suspected cartel gunmen and four police were killed during shootouts over the weekend in a Mexican town near the U.S. border, days after U.S. President Donald Trump raised bilateral tensions by saying he would designate the gangs as terrorists.
The government of the northern state of Coahuila said state police clashed at midday Saturday with a group of heavily armed gunmen riding in pickup trucks in the small town of Villa Union, about 40 miles southwest of the border city of Piedras Negras.
Standing outside the Villa Union mayor's bullet-ridden offices, Coahuila Governor Miguel Angel Riquelme told reporters the state had acted "decisively" to tackle the cartel henchmen. Four police were killed and six were injured, he said.
The fighting went on for more than an hour, during which ten gunmen were killed, three of them by security forces in pursuit of the gang members, Riquelme said Saturday. ...
At about noon on Saturday, heavy gunfire began ringing out in Villa Union, and a convoy of armed pickup trucks could be seen moving around the town, according to video clips posted by social media users. Others showed plumes of smoke rising from the town.
Mexico will not accept intervention from abroad, president says
MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said on Sunday his government will deliver justice to the victims of organized crime and repeated that the country would not accept any intervention from abroad.
Referring to recent outbreaks of gang violence that have fed concern that the United States could try to intervene in Mexico, Lopez Obrador thanked U.S. President Donald Trump for his support and said his government would handle the country’s security challenges.
Mexico president hosts US AG behind closed doors in capital
MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexico’s president and the U.S. attorney general met behind closed doors Thursday, about a week after U.S. President Donald Trump suggested his government could classify Mexican drug cartels as terrorist organizations.
The Foreign Relations Department said the meeting between Attorney General William Barr and President Andrés Manuel López Obrador was “cordial and respectful” and touched on establishing “a common front” against the cartels.
“Among other things, they spoke about cooperating on weapons trafficking, money laundering, international drug trafficking and how to form a common front against international trafficking and crime,” the department said in a statement.
Mexico has been pressing the United States to stop the flow of illegal weapons south, while Trump has been pushing Mexico to do more to combat cartels, like the one that killed nine U.S. dual citizens in November.
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Trump halts plan to designate Mexican drug cartels as terrorists
President Trump tweeted on Friday that the U.S. will "temporarily hold off" on designating Mexican cartels as terrorist organizations.
The big picture: Trump's vow to re-label Mexican drug cartels in November prompted Mexico's president to characterize the proposal as "interventionism." The Mexican foreign secretary said last month he got in contact with the U.S. government over the proposal. Trump added on Friday that he was halting the decision at President Andrés Manuel López Obrador's request.
Yes, but: Trump claimed that "all necessary work has been completed" to make the designation on Friday, and said "statutorily" the U.S. is "ready to do so."
Department of State issues travel advisory to Mexico due to risk of crime and kidnapping ...
Violent crime, such as homicides, kidnappings, carjackings and robbery, are "widespread" and the U.S. government "has limited ability to provide emergency services" to Americans in many areas, according to the advisory.
Americans are being advised not to travel to the states of Colima, Guerrero, Michoacán, Sinaloa and Tamaulipas due to crime.
In Guerrero state, armed groups operate independently of the government in many areas and frequently maintain roadblocks and may use violence toward travelers, according to the U.S. government. Criminal organizations are operating in Sinaloa state, where violent crime is widespread. In Tamaulipas state, organized crime activity, including gun battles, murder, armed robbery, carjacking, kidnapping, has led to disappearances, extortion and sexual assault.
The State Department is also advising U.S. citizens to reconsider travel to the states of Chihuahua, Coahuila, Durango, Jalisco, Mexico state, Morelos, Nayarit, Nuevo Leon, San Luis Potosi, Sonora and Zacatecas due to crime.
If Americans travel to Mexico, they are advised to keep their traveling companions and family back home informed of their travel plans, and if separated from their travel group, to send a GPS location. If taking a taxi alone, text a photo of the taxi number and license plate to a friend or family member.
Wow, not a surprise, but sad. We haven’t been there since 2009 and it was getting bad then. The group we traveled with no longer does tours in Mexico. We went down to ride the train through the Grand Canyon of Mexico. Los federales accompanied the train and each time the train stopped, they got out with machine guns at the ready and patrolled all around the train.
The all-day train ride to and from Chihuahua to the coast and back is spectacular, but I wouldn’t do it now.
The all-day train ride to and from Chihuahua to the coast and back is spectacular, but I wouldn’t do it now.
"To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead." -- Thomas Paine