Latin America: Week in Review, Mexico, North America

Mexico Arrests Another Drug Cartel Kingpin

October 10, 2014 By Staff

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 control of the Juarez cartel from the its founder, his brother Amado, after the latter died while undergoing cosmetic surgery in 1997.

Both arrests occur as Mexico’s government faces intense scrutiny over the disappearance of 43 student protesters in the city of Iguala as well as an alleged massacre of suspected 22 gang members by army troops in Mexico state. “I think it’s a little bit because of the pressure,” said Samuel Gonzalez, Mexico’s former top anti-drug prosecutor, told the AP.

During his leadership of the Juarez cartel, Carrillo Fuentes engaged in a years-long turf war with the Sinaloa cartel, arguably the bloodiest in Mexico’s history. The conflict resulted in at least 8,000 deaths, and centered around a route controlling an estimated 70 percent of all the cocaine entering the United States. In February, the leader of the Sinaloa cartel, Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, was captured by Mexican forces—the most high-profile arrest of a drug lord so far since President Enrique Peña Nieto’s took office in December 2012.

The United States Drug Enforcement Administration issued a statement congratulating Mexico for Carrillo Fuentes’ arrest. It remains to be seen, however, if his capture will translate into a decrease or increase of violence in the area, as other groups vie for power.

Headlines from the Western Hemisphere

North America

  • The mayor of Iguala, Mexico has not been seen since he took a leave of absence after the disappearance of over 40 students last week, in which he and the local police have been implicated.
  • The most recent indictment filed by U.S. authorities against Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman Loera suggest that country’s government is seeking the extradition of Sinaloa cartel boss, arrested in February in Mexico where he remains in custody.


  • Haitian dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier, who died of a heart attack Saturday, will be buried in a private service, ending speculation over whether Duvalier will be officially buried by a government uncomfortable with the legacy of his brutal regime.
  • In the past year, some 25,000 Cuban migrants entered the U.S. without travel visas, many of them on vessels unsuitable for the journey, the highest number of Cuban migrants the U.S. has seen since 1994.

Central America

  • Speaking in Guatemala Wednesday, former New York City mayor Rudolph Giuliani suggested the country use statistical analysis to guide the hiring and payment of the notoriously corrupt security forces.
  • An InSight Crime investigation looks at the arrest in France and later extradition to the U.S. of a relatively unknown Guatemalan drug kingpin and the implications of that arrest for his political and business connections back home.


  • FARC guerilla chief Rodrigo Londono, alias “Timochenko,” has been travelling to Cuba where the group is holding peace talks with Colombia’s government, and while officials have said they will kill or capture the leader whenever they get the opportunity, it remains unclear whether he sat down with any members of the government.
  • Despite its solid growth in recent years, Colombia’s economy may be threatened by the declining price of oil, a commodity which makes up two-thirds of the country’s exports.
  • Venezuela will pay Exxon Mobile $1.6 billion, $15 billion less than the U.S. oil giant sought in a World Bank arbitration, and while the penalty for nationalizing a major project is less than expected, many other such cases remain outstanding.
  • Colombia registered 186 attacks on human rights activists between June and September, a 170 percent increase from the same period last year.

Southern Cone

  • Marina Silva, who was knocked out of Brazil’s presidential election Sunday, withheld her anticipated endorsement for Aécio Neves in an apparent effort to force more left-leaning concessions from the candidate before he faces incumbent Dilma Rousseff in an Oct. 26 runoff.
  • The first 42 Syrian refugees arrived in Uruguay, the first country in the region to assume all of the refugees’ resettlement costs.

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