Mexican Authorities Discover Mass Grave In Durango; Bodies Signal Split In Sinaloa Cartel

May 24, 2011 7:15 am 0 comments

The Mexican city of Durango.

Today in Latin America

Top StoryPolice in Mexico discovered a mass grave in a vacant car repair lot in the northern Mexican city of Durango.

The grave, which is the largest mass grave discovered by authorities, contained 89 bodies and was probably used by drug cartels to hold the corpses of executed gang members, kidnap victims and police.

Since April, authorities have unearthed a total of seven mass graves in Durango, a city of almost 600,000, and 308 bodies so far have been recovered. Some of the bodies were put in the ground less than six months ago, while others have been there for over four years.

All seven of the mass graves were located in middle-class neighborhoods and near schools or shops, which raises questions of how local authorities and residents were unaware of the graves.

“Something must have failed, maybe intelligence wasn’t correct or enough because if we had in place a perfectly designed strategy, situations like those that have occurred, and that have caused so much pain and suffering, would not have happened,” said Juan Rosales, the deputy secretary of Durango’s Public Safety Department.

Human rights groups and some local residents worry that local authorities turn a blind eye to the violence that plagues Durango. 17 corrupt police officers were arrested last month for their alleged involvement in the mass graves.

A top Mexican federal police official told the Associated Press that the bodies in the graves were rivals of the Sinaloa cartel, which is currently undergoing an internal power struggle in Durango.

The Sinaloa cartel, lead by the notorious Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán and once thought to be the country’s most efficient drug organization, appears to be in the middle of an internal dispute, the official said.

Two local groups recently attempted to break off from the Sinaloa cartel and control the drug shipment routes through Durango. A third group in the city, known as the “M’s,” still remains loyal to Guzmán.

Disputes like the one in Durango “are part of the jockeying that goes on in the world of drug trafficking” and will probably result in increased violence in Durango, said Jorge Chabat, an expert on the Mexican drug trade.

The Sinaloa cartel is already battling the Zetas for control of remote areas of the Durango state, where the cartels can easily hide and grow their products. It is rumored that Guzmán himself is in the mountainous region.

In related news, U.S. authorities announced last week that they broke up a gang in Arizona allegedly working with the Sinaloa cartel.

“This operation has effectively dismantled the Arizona-based transportation and distribution cells of the Jesus Valencia Rodriguez organization,” said Tom Horne, Arizona’s attorney general. “This criminal enterprise was a well-organized operation that constantly worked against law enforcement interdiction efforts with sophisticated counter-surveillance methods, including using human spotters embedded on U.S. soil, night vision equipment and radio communication.”

Just Published at the Latin America News Dispatch

Headlines from the Western Hemisphere

North America

Caribbean

  • Canadian aircraft sent to Haiti to help in the aftermath of last year’s devastating earthquake suffered mechanical problems that left some sitting idle for days as they awaited replacement parts, according to military reports.
  • The U.S. government updated its broadcasts to Cuba via Radio/Television Marti by adopting social media — a practice derided as “cyberterrorism” by the Castro government.

Central America

Andes

Southern Cone

Image: Iván Cabrera @ Flickr.

Subscribe to Today in Latin America by Email

No Comments

Leave a Reply


Other News

  • Mexico North America Today in Latin America Mexican Troops Executed Victims in June Slayings, Rights Body Finds

    Mexican Troops Executed Victims in June Slayings, Rights Body Finds

    Top Story — Mexican troops executed up to 15 of the 22 suspected gang members killed in June in the small town of San Pedro Limón, according to an investigation by the government’s human rights agency. The account by Raúl Plascencia, president of the commission, contradicted several prior versions of a murky story offered at various stages by the military, the Attorney General’s office and an eyewitness. Plascencia called for prosecutors to investigate a potential cover-up by military officials. At […]

    Read more →
  • Caribbean News Briefs North America As World Series Begins, So Does ‘Latin American Pipeline’ to MLB

    As World Series Begins, So Does ‘Latin American Pipeline’ to MLB

    When the opening pitch is thrown Tuesday night in game one of the World Series, a number of Latin American players will be front and center under the bright stadium floodlights. What won’t be on display, however, are some of the darker stories behind how many Latin Americans make it to play in Major League Baseball in the first place. This season, Latin American players made up close to a quarter of all MLB players — a staggering 86 percent of […]

    Read more →
  • Chile Southern Cone Today in Latin America Pinochet Bodyguard and Ex-Mayor Arrested in Santiago

    Pinochet Bodyguard and Ex-Mayor Arrested in Santiago

    Top Story — Chilean authorities have arrested a former aide to Gen. Augusto Pinochet, accusing him of committing various atrocities under the 1973-1990 military dictatorship. A judge on Monday ordered the arrest of retired military colonel Cristian Labbe on charges of “unlawful association” with a group that ultimately became the DINA secret police force. Labbe was allegedly involved in the murder of 13 people under Pinochet’s dictatorship. Those 13 people, investigators found, were tortured and executed at the notorious Tejas […]

    Read more →
  • Caribbean Cuba Today in Latin America Latin American Ministers Will Meet in Havana to Discuss Ebola Fight

    Latin American Ministers Will Meet in Havana to Discuss Ebola Fight

    Top Story — Top health officials from several Latin American countries are meeting today in Havana, Cuba, to discuss joint efforts to combat Ebola, as fears grow over the virus’ potential to spread to the region. Leaders from the socialist ALBA bloc, which includes Cuba, Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, Nicaragua and several Caribbean countries, will meet to coordinate efforts following unilateral travel bans by several countries in the region. On Saturday, retired Cuban leader Fidel Castro penned a column in the […]

    Read more →
  • Brazil Southern Cone Today in Latin America Brazilian Man Confesses to Killing 39 People, Attempts Suicide in Jail

    Brazilian Man Confesses to Killing 39 People, Attempts Suicide in Jail

    Top Story — A Brazilian man confessed to committing at least 39 murders after police arrested him in the city of Goiânia on Thursday after a 70-day investigation. Thiago Henrique Gomes de Rocha, a 26-year-old security guard, seems to have targeted women, homeless people and homosexuals. De Rocha, who committed the murders over three years, approached his victims on a motorcycle before demanding their belongings and then shooting them. Police noted de Rocha’s “coldness” and extreme rage when recounting his […]

    Read more →
  • Andes Today in Latin America Venezuela Falling Oil Prices Raise Worries of Venezuela Default, Crisis

    Falling Oil Prices Raise Worries of Venezuela Default, Crisis

    Top Story — Analysts are worried about a new phase of economic chaos in Venezuela as falling oil prices continue to take their toll. Insurance rates on the country’s debt shot up Wednesday to a new high, more than three times the size of the rate in late June, after a drop in oil prices raised worries the country may fail to pay off its obligations to foreign bondholders. The spike in Venezuela’s bond insurance rates means it costs investors […]

    Read more →
  • Caribbean Haiti North America Today in Latin America U.N. Extends Controversial Peacekeeping Mission in Haiti

    U.N. Extends Controversial Peacekeeping Mission in Haiti

    Top Story — The United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) will be renewed for another year, the U.N. Security Council announced on Tuesday. The council, composed of 15 nations, unanimously decided to renew the MINUSTAH mandate, though the number of military personnel in Haiti will be reduced from 5,000 to 2,370. The number of police personnel will remain unchanged. MINUSTAH was initially created in 2004 after former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide was ousted in a coup, leading to violence and […]

    Read more →
  • Mexico North America Today in Latin America Mexican Radio Host Shot Dead on the Air

    Mexican Radio Host Shot Dead on the Air

    Top Story — Mexican activist and radio host Atilano Roman Tirado was shot on-air during his weekly program Oct. 11 in the state of Sinaloa. Two gunmen forced their way into the radio studio of Fiesta Mexicana where Tirado hosted his Saturday morning program “Así es mi Tierra.” Listeners of the program could hear a shot fired around 10:40 a.m. followed by a co-worker’s voice saying, “he killed him.” Programming on the station did not resume for another 30 minutes. […]

    Read more →
  • Andes Bolivia Dispatches Bolivians in New York Cast Votes for President, Favoring Opposition

    Bolivians in New York Cast Votes for President, Favoring Opposition

    NEW YORK – When Bolivians in New York City cast their votes in a presidential election Sunday, most of them went against the trend that swept President Evo Morales into his third term. While Morales won around 60 percent of the vote in Bolivia, New York voters gave him just over a quarter of their vote, preferring instead the opposition candidate Samuel Doria Medina. The remote election in New York was held at a public school in the Latino enclave […]

    Read more →
  • Mexico North America Today in Latin America Mexico Arrests Another Drug Cartel Kingpin

    Mexico Arrests Another Drug Cartel Kingpin

    Top Story – Vicente Carrillo Fuentes, alleged leader of Mexico’s Juarez cartel, was captured in the Mexican city of Torreon, the Associated Press reports. This is the second arrest in two weeks of a major Mexican cartel leader, following that of Hector Beltrán Leyva, of the Beltran Leyva organization on Oct. 1. Nicknamed “The Viceroy,” or “The General,” Fuentes had a $5 million reward for his arrest in the United States and a $2.2 million reward in Mexico. He took […]

    Read more →