In the latest development from army-occupied Nuevo Laredo, 44 kidnapping victims freed June 26 when over 200 Mexican federal agents raided three safe houses. Shots were fired at one of the houses, but nobody was injured. A crowd of relatives of the disappeared gathered, awaiting word on kidnap victims. Some of the victims – 38 men and six women – had been held as long as three months. Many were in their teens. Few were older than 30.
Authorities in Mexico City said many were abducted because of their loyalty to rival drug cartels, which are waging a bloody war for control of the lucrative corridor through Nuevo Laredo and Laredo, TX. Some of the families were from Nuevo Laredo, where scores of residents have reportedly disappeared in recent months. Others came from Texas, where some US citizens have crossed the border and have never been heard from again. (San Diego Union-Tribune, June 28)
Amazingly, the army presence hasn’t stoppped the flow of drug money across the border at Lardeo. Two men were ordered detained June 28 after US Customs and Border Protection officials found nearly $80,000 hidden in the pickup truck they were driving into Texas from Mexico. Customs officials noticed the gas tank of the truck looked suspicious and a dog trained to detect contraband alerted to the vehicle. The officials found $79,990 in undeclared currency. It is illegal to carry more than $10,000 across the border without declaring it. Driver Sergio Gaytan-Panduro, 21, and passenger Jose Jesus Gaytan, 31, were arrested on federal charges of bulk cash smuggling. Both men from Mexico have addresses in Modesto, CA. CBP agents in Laredo have seized nearly $3.5 million in undeclared currency since the fiscal year began in October, more than three times the $1 million seized the previous year. (AP, June 28)
See our last post on the crisis in northern Mexico.