Mexico claims another blow against cartels

Mexico claimed another capture of a long-fugitive cartel kingpin Oct. 9, when Vicente Carrillo Fuentes AKA "El Viceroy" surrendered without a shot after being recognized by federal police at a checkpoint in Torreon, Coahuila. A bodyguard in the car was also taken into custody. El Viceroy, top boss of the Juárez Cartel, was one of Mexico's most wanted fugitives, and the US was offering a $5 million reward for information leading to his arrest or conviction. (CNN, Oct. 9) However, like Héctor Beltran Leyva of the Beltran Leyva Organization, who was apprehended just days earlier, the Viceroy headed a crime syndicate that was already in decline—squeezed out by the twin behemoths of the Sinaloa Cartel and Los Zetas.

Even if Mexico's claimed gains against the cartels are real and the years of internal war are slowly drawing to a close, the country will be grappling with this reign of violence for a long time to come. On Sept. 7, residents of the Cinco Manantiales region of Coahuila state held a march in the village of Villa Unión to demand information about the whereabouts of their disappeared loved ones. Several towns in the region, including Villa Unión, Piedras Negras and Allende, suffered waves of killings and abductions over the past years, with hundreds of families affected. Olga Lidia Saucedo García, leader of the local group Families United, who helped organize the march, told a reporter at the scene: "I am afraid, but I have to be strong." (Vanguardia, Sept. 7)

Federal and state authorities earlier this year carried out an investigation in the Cinco Manantiales region, searching homes and ranches and interrogating residents, to try to determine the facts of what happened at Allende in March 2011—when presumed Zeta gunmen raided the town, destroying and looting homes and shops, and abducting some 300 residents who were never seen again. (Vice, July 10) But three months after the investigation came to a close, survivors of the disappeared villagers have still heard nothing from authorities about the fate of their loves ones, or the whereabouts of their remains.

Cross-post to High Times and Global Ganja Report.