Synchronized drug gang violence across the State of Michoacan
Last weekend Mexican federal police arrested Arnoldo Rueda Medina, a man suspected of being second-in-command for La Familia drug trafficking organization in the State of Michoacán. In retribution, La Familia conducted state-wide coordinated attacks against federal police and military compounds. I’m posting this because it is a semi-new development that a drug gang is conducting synchronized attacks against the government.
Intead attacks are usually made against a individuals or groups for reasons directly attributable to their involvement in illicit activities. Thus, if police were killed by a drug gang then it was likely because those police were involved with the drug trade. The La Familia attacks are likely blind violence against the law enforcement establishment. Hopefully, this doesn’t become a model that drug gangs use when targeted by the government for arrest.
La Familia in Michoacán
Recall also, that Michoacán has become distinctly relevant in Mexico’s drug war. Michoacán is President Calderon’s home-state and earlier this summer he initiated a crackdown on local government officials suspected of complaisance and corruption in the region’s drug trade. Morelia, the State Capital was also the place where drug terrorists threw two grenades into the town square during Independence Day celebrations last year, killing 8 and wounding at least 100. In total, the state has had over 600 drug-related murders since January 2007.
Mexico’s “Tet Offensive”?
The CS Monitor is calling this the La Familia “Tet Offensive”. From the article, Bruce Bagley a Latin American drug expert at the University of Miami, is claiming that the attacks are going to critically impair President Calderon’s campaign against the drug cartels:
The attacks over the weekend will do little to bolster Calderón’s national action party, which already fared poorly well in legislative elections last week.
“The [drug gangs] are demonstrating to the government that their security strategy has only limited impact,” says Mr. Bagley. “They demonstrated that they have ongoing capacity to intimidate, coerce, and carry out violence against police despite the militarization.”
This message resounds in Michoacán, where the military has manned the streets the longest, and where La Familia has grown into one of the nation’s most powerful outfits. “In Michoacán, they have become a force to be reckoned with,” says Bagley.
While no doubt a brazen attack demonstrating new tactics, I don’t think this is going to hurt Calderon’s drug policy as much as the elections did; and the related public’s desire to change course. If anything, from what I’ve heard around Mexico (which is extremely limited) the attacks have united people against this type of drug terrorism and will hopefully result in some La Familia arrests.
Bagley’s point is backed up, however, by pressure congress is putting on Calderon to end the military’s role in counter-narcotics.
UPDATE: On Monday 12 bodies (11 men, 1 woman) were found tortured and killed then dumped alongside a road in Michoacán. It is unkown if these deaths are related to the recent arrest of Arnoldo Rueda Medina or are the result of clashes between the drug gangs La Familia and Los Zetas.