Today in Latin America
Top Story — The acting head of the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) said that countries across the world are concerned about the long reach and influence of Mexican drug cartels.
Speaking Tuesday at the International Conference for Drug Control in Cancún, Mexico, Michelle Leonhart said the U.S. is very concerned by the spread of the Zetas, a Mexican paramilitary group that broke away from the Gulf Cartel to form its own organization. The Zetas are accused of killing of a U.S. immigration agent in February and massacring 72 migrants in northern Mexico last year.
On Monday, a day before Leonhart made her comments, a wave of drug-related violence swept through southern Mexico, leaving five people dead.
A 30-minute shootout in the resort town of Acapulco left two gunmen and a soldier dead with another soldier and a police officer wounded. The heads of two unidentified men were also found early Monday in Acapulco.
The Gulf, Beltrán Leyva and Cartel Independiente de Acapulco drug organizations are all fighting for control of the port city. It is also believed that the Sinaloa Cartel, Mexico’s oldest and most powerful, is attempting to make inroads into area.
In northern Mexico on Monday, two U.S. citizens were shot and killed as they were about to cross into California at the San Ysidro border crossing.
Sergio Salcido Luna, 25, and Kevin Joel Romero, 28, were found dead in the vehicle after being shot several times. Local authorities removed a small amount of drugs from the scene.
“We can confirm that two U.S. citizens were shot to death at a Tijuana border crossing yesterday,” the State Department said in a statement on Tuesday, according to Reuters. The two men worked for a beverage maintenance company in southern California.
Since Mexican President Felipe Calderón cracked down on drug cartels in 2006 over 34,600 people have been killed in the country.
Headlines from the Western Hemisphere
- Police in the Mexican state of Veracruz discovered the bodies of five men who were tortured and shot to death.
- The California state assembly killed two bills that sought to require public officials to report suspected undocumented immigrants and to prohibit employers from hiring the immigrants.
- Cuba on Tuesday announced plans to drill five deepwater oil wells in the Gulf of Mexico beginning this summer, expressing confidence that its efforts will be rewarded with major new energy finds.
- In one of his first moves as Haiti’s president-elect, Michel Martelly made an unusual gesture — he invited all of his country’s living ex-presidents to his upcoming inauguration.
- Baltimore Orioles pitcher Alfredo Simon could be charged with murder as early as this week, a prosecutor in his native Dominican Republic said Tuesday.
- At least 21 Salvadoran migrants were killed last year in Mexico while trying to reach the United States, while 250 others were the victims of serious crimes or human rights abuses, El Salvador’s foreign ministry said.
- The United States is worried about increasingly close ties between Venezuela and Iran, a top US military official told lawmakers Tuesday.
- The U.S. and Colombia are expected to announce Wednesday a deal on a key free trade pact, three people close to the agreement said, ending a years-long stalemate over the pact.
- Ecuador said it is expelling the American ambassador, making her the latest U.S. official to become embroiled in a diplomatic dispute after disclosures by the Wikileaks website.
- Farmers opposed to Southern Copper’s $1 billion Tia Maria mine said on Tuesday they would boycott Peru’s presidential election unless the mining company abandons its project and police stop attacking protesters.
- The United Nations rural development arm has lent Bolivia about $8 million to fund projects to alleviate poverty in two departments, the agency reported today following the signing of a financing agreement with the Government of the South American country.
- The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) said Tuesday that Brazil needs to suspend work on the massive Belo Monte dam project to consult the affected indigenous population.
- Argentine President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner ordered the redeployment of police in Buenos Aires to tackle voter concerns about crime.
- Chile hopes to produce more than seven million metric tons of copper by the yer 2020.