Mexico's most notorious kingpin, Rafael Caro Quintero, was released Aug. 9 from Puente Grande federal prison in Jalisco where he had been incarcerated for the past 28 years. He left the facility at dawn, several hours before the release order was made public. The First Appellate Tribunal in Guadalajara found in March that Caro Quintero was improperly tried for the 1985 torture-killing of DEA agent Enrique "Kiki" Camarena, and that charges should have been brought at the state rather than federal level. Federal prosecutors immediately appealed to the Supreme Justice Court of the Nation, which refused to rescind the lower court's decision. The Third Circuit Tribunal, also in Guadalajara, has now followed through by issuing Caro Quintero an amparo—a judicial order barring any federal action against him.
At least 13 people, including seven police officers, were killed and eight others wounded in three shootouts involving police and "armed commandos" on the border of Jalisco and Michoacán states in west-central Mexico Dec. 23. The first incident came when Michoacán state police responded to a report of a traffic accident in Briseñas municipality and were ambushed. Similar gunfights shortly followed in the nearby municipalities of Quitúpan and Ayotlán. The following day, bullets flew in the central plaza of Yurécuaro, Michoacán, in what authorities called a shootout between the Knights Templar and Jalisco Nueva Generación cartel, leaving an unarmed bystander dead. Also on Christmas Eve, a group of armed men stormed the town of El Platanar de Los Ontiveros in the mountains of northwestern Sinaloa state, killing nine with assault weapons and dumping their bodies on a sports field. Authorities called that one a fight between the Sinaloa Cartel and the Zetas. (AP, Dec. 26; AFP, Dec. 25; EFE, Dec. 24; Milenio, Dec. 23)
As Mexico has aggressively militarized its "drug war" over the past years, the nation's capital has been an exception, with authorities reluctant to send soliders to patrol the seat of federal power—until now. Over 1,000 army troops have been mobilized to the streets of Nezahualcóyotl, a suburb of Mexico City, just south of the Federal District line in México state, which has seen a dramatic increase of violence in the past weeks. The México state Prosecutor General says 119 assassinations have been registered so far this year, mostly in Nezahualcóyotl. The decision to send in army troops—under a program dubbed "Operation Neza"—was apparently sparked by the Sept. 16 stabbing death of México state lawmaker Jaime Serrano Cedillo of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI). Although subsequent reports have indicated he was killed by his wife in a domestic dispute, Serrano was the second PRI politician killed in as many days last week. On Sept. 15, Eduardo Castro Luque, newly elected to the Sonora state legislature, was shot full of nine bullets in front of his home in Ciudad Obregón. The twin slayings came when the country was on high alert for Independence Day celebrations, with extra troops deployed to conflicted states to head off terror attacks on the festivities. The PRI, a once-entrenched political machine, returns to power after 12 years in opposition, when president-elect Enrique Peña Nieto takes office in December. (LAT, AP, Sept. 21; WSJ, El País, Spain, Sept. 20; EFE, AP, La Jornada, Sept. 15)