As many as 17 people were killed in a massacre in Mexico’s west-central state of Michoacán, with video of the grisly incident going viral on social media. The victims were lined up along the outer wall of a house and shot dead execution-style after armed men forced them out of a wake they were attending in the pueblo of San José de Gracia. The perpetrators removed the bodies in trucks and took them to an unknown location. It appears to be the worst massacre in Mexico under the presidency of Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who came to office in 2018 pledging to de-escalate violence in the country. Michoacán, where the Jalisco New Generation Cartel is fighting regional rivals, has been particularly hard hit by recent violence. Contrary to his promises to eschew military solutions, López Obrador has responded by flooding the state with army troops. (Photo via RedMichoacán)
A year-end report by Mexico’s government registered a figure of 95,000 missing persons nationwide, with an estimated 52,000 unidentified bodies buried in mass graves. The report by the Comisión Nacional de Búsqueda de Personas (National Missing Persons Search Commission) found that the great majority of the disappearances have taken place since 2007, when Mexico began a military crackdown on the drug cartels. Alejandro Encinas, the assistant interior secretary for human rights, said that there are 9,400 unidentified bodies in cold-storage rooms in the country, and pledged to form a National Center for Human Identification tasked with forensic work on these remains. He admitted to a “forensic crisis that has lead to a situation where we don’t have the ability to guarantee the identification of people and return [of remains] to their families.” (Photo via openDemocracy)
Mexico’s President Lopez Obrador met with Trump at the White House to inaugurate the new trade treaty that replaces NAFTA. Embarrassingly, the meeting was punctuated by horrific new outbursts of narco-violence in Mexico. And the country’s promised cannabis legalization—mandated by the high court and looked to as a de-escalation of the dystopian drug war—is stalled by a paralyzed Congress. (Photo: Secretaría de Seguridad y Protección Ciudadana)
There is a discomforting sense that Mexico is perpetually on the eve of cannabis legalization, as the country’s Congress wins a six-month extension from the Supreme Court to pass a law freeing the herb. But foreign capital is already eyeing Mexico’s emergent legal cannabis sector—even amid a terrifying escalation in the bloody cartel wars. When authorities attempted to arrest the son of “Chapo” Guzmán in Culiacán, the troops were surrounded by Cartel gunmen riding in trucks mounted with big machine-guns, and even what appeared to be improvised armored vehicles. The younger Guzmán escaped, and the Sinaloa Cartel proved it has the firepower to effectively challenge the state—at least on its home turf. (Photo via The Drive)
Despite his boast to have “ended” the drug war and pledge to explore cannabis legalization, Mexico’s new populist president is seeking to create a special anti-drug “National Guard” drawing from the military and police forces. Use of the military in drug enforcement was already shot down by the Supreme Court, but President Andrés Manuel López Obrador is going around the judiciary by changing the constitution. This plan is moving rapidly ahead—and meanwhile the military is still being sent against campesino cannabis growers and small traffickers.
Notorious narco-lord "Chapo" Guzmán was convicted by a federal jury in New York and faces life in prison. But violence in Mexico has only escalated since his capture. Few media accounts have noted how Chapo and his Sinaloa Cartel rose as militarized narcotics enforcement escalated in Mexico—a trajectory mirrored by the cartels' move from dealing in cannabis to deadly white powders. (Photo: US Coast Guard via Cannabis Now)
Residents of Ciudad Guzmán, in Mexico's west-central state of Jalisco, took to the streets to demand the withdrawal of military troops from the municipality—and the reappearance alive of two local youths. Mexican naval troops were ordered to the town, also known as Zapotlan el Grande, to fight the New Generation cartel, but were accused by locals of "disappearing" the two young residents—one just 17 years old. In both cases, witnesses claim the young men were detained by the Navy and were never seen again. Navy troops fired shots in the air after the rally turned violent, with protesters throwing rocks and bottles—possibly due to infiltration by provocateurs. At least three were reported wounded. (Photo: El Sol de Mexico)
Brazilian federal police announced the arrest of José González Valencia, top leader of the Jalisco New Generation Cartel—the criminal machine that has risen to challenge the Sinaloa Cartel for control of Mexico's narco trade. Valencia, known as "El Camarón" (The Shrimp), was arrested at Aquiraz, a resort near the coastal city of Fortaleza, where he was spending the Christmas holidays with his family. He was extradited straight from Brazil to the United States, where he faces trafficking charges. (Map: CIA)
Yet another Mexican journalist was slain as the cartels continue to exact vengeance on any who would dare to report on their reign of terror and corruption. Cándido "Papuche" Ríos, who covered the nota roja (crime and police beat) for local newspaper Diario de Acayucan, was gunned down in a rural town in Veracruz state.
More than 250 human skulls were unearthed from a mass grave outside Mexico's port of Veracruz, where citizen volunteers search for the remains of lost loved ones.
The Mexican state of Jalisco is bracing for a feared explosion of violencie after the son of the country's top drug lord, "Chapo" Guzmán, was kidnapped by rivals.
A group of mothers in Veracruz who came together to search for missing loved ones announced the disovery of 28 clandestine graves with remains of some 40 bodies.