The security chief at Topo Chico prison in the northern Mexican city of Monterrey was assassinated Feb. 5, his mutilated body found in a plastic box in an abandoned car near the facility. Francisco Martínez Ramírez, who had worked there for three decades and was nearing retirement, had been abducted from his home the previous day. He is the third employee to be murdered in recent months at the prison, which has also been the target of a series of grenade attacks. (Diario de Coahuila, Feb. 6; BBC News, Feb. 5)
One Feb. 2, gunmen killed the newly appointed police chief of Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas, in a brazen response to the new governor’s vow to restore order to the violence-torn state. Manuel Farfán, a retired army brigadier general, was shot down on a downtown street, along with a police bodyguards and his personal secretary. Farfán was one of 11 retired army generals recently named to head municipal police departments across Tamaulipas. He took office with the change of city and state governments on Jan. 1. Upon taking office New Year’s Day, Tamaulipas Gov. Egidio Torre (PRI) vowed that his government would put an end to the state’s “cruel, unjust and difficult” wave of violence. (Houston Chronicle, Feb. 3)
Mexico’s Ministry of National Defense (SEDENA) reports that 13 gunmen were killed in battles with soldiers in the Tamaulipas towns of San Fernando, Valle Hermoso and Nuevo Laredo on Feb. 5. Two men were arrested as soldiers seized marijuana, guns and ammunition in other incidents in Reynosa, Valle Hermoso and Tampico. (ValleyCentral.com, Harlingen, Feb. 5)
In an evident case of attempted narco-censorship Feb. 5, a group of gunmen near Nuevo Laredo kidnapped for several hours a man who was delivering the newspapers El Norte and Metro, seizing and burning the 1,500 copies he was carrying. The delivery man was reportedly warned that his captors didn’t want the published newspapers, published by the Monterrey-based Grupo Reforma, to reach Tamaulipas. (LAHT, Feb. 5)
Two giant catapults used by smugglers in the northern border state of Sonora to lob packets of contraband across the border into the United States were seized by army troops near the towns of Agua Prieta and Naco Jan 28. (EFE, Jan. 29)
On the US side, Border Patrol agents assigned to the Tucson Sector’s Ajo station seized more than 1,800 pounds of marijuana in 87 sealed bundles from a pick-up truck apparently abandoned in the desert. (Sierra Vista Herald, Feb. 4)
See our last post on Mexico’s narco wars.