The last few days have seen a return to a certain type of violence of which many people thought they might have seen the last. The relatively peaceful turn of events in Mexico's cartel adventures has left the passive observers (the overwhelming majority) with the impression that things are getting better.
Then, suddenly, there is a fortnight of events that sets the "general impression" dial back several notches. But, please, once again, when you all are reading what I am writing please understand the meanings of the words that we are using.
We are still about a year and a half from returning to a 1958 level of violence, criminality, and anti-social behaviour in Mexico. We have reduced the insanity of the cartel on cartel violence and the "secuestros" of people being held for ransom by about 80% from the peak in late 2011.
Our particular area around our little mud hut in rural Tamaulipas was pretty much surrounded at a close distance with really bad fighting between two cartels and even intra-cartel bloodshed. We were never bothered or menaced in any way. We are not involved in their business. We have shown support for the forces of order, especially the Army and the Naval Infantry, and of late for the "Fuerza Civil", a uniformed National Police force that is nominally civilian.
During the time when folks might have thought that the violence had ended, "Just like El Gringo Viejo said that it would"....that is neither what happened nor what we said. We have repeated been optimistic that the war would, in large part, be won. We have also said, repeatedly that the military and certain police authority and the will of the people to be brave enough to "drop a dime" on the cockroaches had turned the corner, and that we were winning the war against the cockroaches.
We have also pointed out on three or four occasions that there was a conundrum associated with the militarily efficient and effective shredding of large group cartel cells. With the heavy casualties and many fallen lieutenants, captains, and jefes, the lesser, younger, stupider, more testosterone driven dummies would present a greater difficulty to weed out one by one. In the Monterrey Metroplex, some four million people, there are about 40 major neighbourhood pandillas (gangs). Many used to have a bit or a lot of affiliation with one cartel or the other....say three and four years ago.
They have been killing each other and shooting each other....not as bad as Detroit or Chicago....but they are still doing it. Nowhere near as bad as two years ago...but its still there. If the demographic of crime divided by total population decline continues, we might be on schedule to return before 21015 to Monterrey's fame as being the safest city of over one million population in Latin America, or perhaps the world.
Great swathes of the Mexican Republic are now either devoid or almost totally devoid of cartel activity that manifests in violence. The Yucatan Peninsula, the Colonial Highlands, most of the entirety of the Pacific Coast, with three or four exceptions and of very few square miles of concern....almost all of Baja California, and by almost all, let us say 99.8%.
The area around Puebla....almost all of Mexico City....almost all of Guadalajara...almost all of the Republic. But it is just not over yet. When the per capita criminality and violence returns to the 1958 level, and remains within those actuarial parameters, then we will have what is the best that can be expected...anywhere. That is almost Japanese level crime rates.
My area...in spite of a bit of sporadic spurts and fits of cartel-like fluffery....is almost..right at....just about at the 1958 level. But we really do not like to talk about it, because of our superstitious olde English/Anglican spooky nature. But the picking crews have returned to the massive, beautiful Valencia orange, Persian lime, and Texas Red grapefruit orchards....big, new and almost new 7 tonne trucks, with 40 men in the esquadrilla, are arriving at the orchards in the dawning hours and harvesting millions and billions of pesos worth of nature's bounty. And they are not being tailed by cockroaches back to the pay out station to shake them down for half of their base and weight pay.
My drives are on full highways, with hundreds of long-distance big-rigs....not 18 wheelers, but 22 wheelers (many triple-rear-axle), and 24 wheelers (double-b0x). Busses meeting a driver 40 or 50 times in a drive of 200 miles....full or nearly full of passengers.
We are still in the recovery of the country of Mexico. In the United States we are still in the process of absolutely losing it. But I diverge.
We are moving finally into the point behind this particular posting. Beginning on 8 March 2013 abrasion and friction was noted by various observers and gossipers about cartel activity. This time it was an issue within the family of the Cartel del Golf0, now largely back in charge of drug and human trafficking in the northeastern quadrant of Mexico.
The Zeta group is cornered in the Monterrey area, and losing ground and personnel rapidly. But there are several clusters of "personality conflicts" within the Cartel del Golfo. Suddenly, on the weekend before last, all Hell broke loose. One faction raided six auto distributorships in Reynosa and stole about 20 new cars, another faction of the same cartel was forming in another neighbourhood. Please remember that the County of Reynosa has a population that is right at 1,000,000 people. The City of Reynosa is almost 900,000 people.
The two factions, number about 70 members total, with approximately 35 autos, SUVs, minivan, all stolen....and they are seeking each other out, milling around in the relatively heavy traffick one would normally find in a busy, advanced industrial and agricultural and medical centre. They begin to circle around in and around and between the various up-scale shopping centres. And voila! They encounter themselves. And all Hell breaks loose. Speeding and shooting, Shooting and speeding through town. For three hours, there is sporadic pursuit and shooting. Casualties mount up. Busted-up vehicles, overturned, smoking, some afire, dead and wounded littering the highways, by-ways, and streets...
Absolutely no strategy....absolutely no tactics....just the willingness to kill somebody for no real reason and also to not care where errant bullets might land. "That's all we need to have one great blast of glory....just like a real movie or television show. Maybe they'll make a song about me!" thinks the juniore cockroach.
After three hours of driving back and forth, spraying automatic weapons fire throughout the City, the Army came up in force on the various exits of the city. By this point it is estimated that there are 22 cartel people dead. Perhaps 9 or 10 have been wounded to the point of incapacitation. The Army locates the provocateurs, one by two, one by one, and shred their vehicles and their occupants when it become apparent that they are not willing to submit to arrest. There were perhaps as many as 18 or 20 who are killed in these encounters, all cockroaches. The Army has learnt to let them kill each other for a while and then take on the leftovers. It cuts down on the court dockets.
The unfortunate part? One teenage boy going home with his Uncle, leaving on of the fancy shopping centres, is stuck in the head and killed by an errant, un-aimed, un-cared about bullet. That same bullet strikes the Uncle, leaving a wound, but nothing at all serious. And a taxi driver....a taxi driver by profession, a family man, and a popular noted person in his section of the city.....is killed, while waiting for a fare who is inside the upscale store in the upscale shopping centre. Two soldiers...heroes....are wounded but not seriously.
Two things about the American press. (1) They declared that the State and local authorities are lying because they said only two people were killed. They did say that, but they quite frankly do not worry about including cockroaches as "people". They have no souls, and therefore they cannot be considered human. (2) Cartel people are really noble because they take their dead with them, like the Indians did. Very noble. Also totally false.
The vehicles were all collected, including some that had been armoured (13), some that were stolen from the dealerships the day before (20). The Army piled bodies of cockroaches into four pickups and took them to the Judicial and Police processing, where some observers estimated that there were 48 - 50 dead. At that place they would be fingerprinted and swabbed for DNA and their bodies were dispatched to various funeral homes. After seven days, the bodies that are unclaimed will be cremated.
There are presently 30 cockroaches still in area hospitals. Which means that almost all who participated managed to kill each other or catch Army bullets. Almost all. Not a very successful day of it for the home team and the visiting team. It was a good day for the Army team.
This past weekend, 384 pounds of pure methamphetamine, and almost 20,000 pounds of marijuana were "decommissioned" in Reynosa as a result of information derived from "an anonymous citizen's telephone call". It is probable that there was some interrogation of those in the hospital as well. Numerous weapons and other devices were found as well, stashed in an underground, reinforced structure. Also, police and Army units were still looking for a "pod" of delinquents, and did manage to isolate and eliminate 7 more, in three different venues, with the delinquents choosing to fight it out instead of surrendering.
Perhaps the saddest part of all of this is the fact that so many of these people who were playing "big important drug trafficker boss man" were aged 14 to 21....well over half. Born without souls.
So, the impetuousness and lack of military discipline or any discipline, and the willingness to let testosterone rule the day and the issue, for no other reason than just "to win"....underscores what El Gringo Viejo has been saying. The degradations have resulted in more and more irrational, unpredictable events, and fewer sophisticated, long-term processes which guard against drawing attention to ones activities, and the losing of team members and assets (drugs and illegal aliens to shake down).
That is why I am encouraged. Everything is proceeding according to my analysis of 10 and 12 months ago. And with that, I retire to watch a bit of Fox Business Channel.
We sincerely appreciate your attention and time. Questions and comments are always a pleasant surprise, and those that are emailed are usually attended first.
El Gringo Viejo