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Subject: LFM Connection to 20 'Tourists' Kidnapped in Acapulco
MEXICO SECURITY MEMO: NOV. 1, 2010
LFM Connection to 20 'Tourists' Kidnapped in Acapulco
A group of 20 tourists from Morelia, Michoacan state, reportedly kidnapped Oct. 1 in the Costa Azul neighborhood of Acapulco, Guerrero state, was sent on orders from La Familia Michoacana (LFM), Reforma reported Oct. 26, citing Mexican federal security sources. According to the report, LFM sent 22 men to Acapulco (two of the men eluded capture) to "heat up" the region as part of its struggle with its rivals from the Cartel de la Sierra, headed by Edgar "La Barbie" Valdez Villarreal. Some of their objectives reportedly included assassinating the mayors of Acapulco and nearby San Marco and attacking area schools. Mexican authorities learned that Valdez Villareal had ordered the kidnapping of the 20 during the interrogation of Isidro "El Quirri" Juarez Solis, allegedly the plaza boss for the Acapulco region for the Cartel de la Sierra, whom they detained several days after the 20 were kidnapped.
As STRATFOR noted when reports of the kidnapping emerged Oct. 1, inconsistencies in the initial reports made it seem dubious that those kidnapped were merely tourists, and the Michoacan origins of this group along with the current violence in Acapulco gave the incident the hallmarks of cartel conflict.
The Cartel de la Sierra is the name used by the Valdez Villarreal faction of the former Beltran Leyva Organization, which has operated throughout the region for several years now first for the Sinaloa federation, then for the BLO and now independently. LFM has operated in the Acapulco region for several years, too, but has never had the level of influence that the Valdez Villarreal organization has had. LFM has attempted to wrest control of Acapulco several times, causing periodic spikes of violence and spectacular firefights with rival organizations and Mexican security forces.
There have been at least 21 deaths in the Acapulco region in the wake of the disappearance of the LFM-linked group, and likely more that have gone unreported. The deployment of these 22 LFM operatives, with ambitious objectives even by Mexican standards, reveals another push by LFM in the Acapulco region, with the 21 reported deaths likely the beginning of a new wave of violence between Valdez Villarreal's organization and LFM. This new LFM offensive could see the Valdez Villarreal organization lose its status as the dominant organization in the region, especially given the recent arrests of senior Valdez Villarreal leadership, especially that of La Barbie himself in August.
October was Juarez's Deadliest Month of 2010
A total of 350 people were killed in the Ciudad Juarez metro area during October, according to the Chihuahua State Attorney General's Office, making it the deadliest month of 2010 to date. According to the Attorney General's Office, Juarez has seen some 2,387 drug trafficking-related deaths in 2010 against 2,666 for the entire state of Chihuahua -- and those are only the ones reported. To give some perspective, 2009 was believed to have been the deadliest year on record for the state of Chihuahua, with 2,754 drug trafficking-related deaths. Now, 2010 -- which has yet to have a month with fewer than 100 deaths -- is on pace to break that record.
No part of the Juarez metro area has been left untouched by the seemingly endless violence despite hosting the largest deployments of Mexican federal security forces, including both Federal Police and members of the military.
The violence stems from a three-front war involving the Vicente Carrillo Fuentes organization (VCF), aka the Juarez cartel, and the Sinaloa Federation headed by Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman Loera. U.S. and Mexican law enforcement have both indicated that the Sinaloa Federation appears to have gained a tactical advantage in the Juarez region and is now the region's primary trafficker. This appears to have provoked the VCF to employ more extreme tactics, such as deploying vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices against Mexican security forces.
Nothing suggests the violence in Juarez will slow soon, as the three-way war dynamic is not likely to change in the near term. With the Sinaloa Federation appearing to be the dominant cartel in the region, however, the VCF simply cannot maintain the pace at which it is currently operating indefinitely given its current resources. It may take several months or even years for the Sinaloa federation to either co-opt or eliminate the VCF, but it appears that one of those outcomes will be inevitable.
Soldiers arrested four police officers in two separate incidents in Monterrey, Nuevo Leon state, for allegedly spying on military operations for criminal organizations.
Police arrested eight suspected kidnappers linked to approximately a dozen kidnappings in Mexico City. The suspects were arrested in the municipalities of Ecatepec and Tecamac.
The bodies of five men were found in the municipality of Temixco, Morelos state. The victims were allegedly associates of Edgar Valdez Villarreal; police found a message at the scene attributing the crime to Cartel Pacifico Sur.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents seized 57 kilograms of heroin from a bus driven by a U.S. citizen at the Laredo border crossing.
The unidentified bodies of three men and a woman were found in the municipality of San Andres Huayapam, Oaxaca state. The victims bore signs of torture and were partially buried.
Several armed men broke into a morgue in Culiacan, Sinaloa state, to steal the body of a man who died in a firefight earlier in the day.
Six police officers were injured in a grenade attack against the police headquarters in Ciudad Madero, Tamaulipas state.
The bodies of three men and a woman were discovered in Acapulco, Guerrero state. The four victims had been blindfolded and bore signs of torture.
Unidentified gunmen killed 15 people at a carwash in Tepic, Nayarit state.
The private secretary for the Nayarit state attorney general was reportedly injured during the attack.
Police in the Buenos Aires neighborhood of Tijuana, Baja California state, seized approximately 1.5 tons of marijuana and arrested three suspects. The seizure reportedly occurred after soldiers checked two suspicious vehicles during a routine patrol.
Unidentified gunmen killed five people during an attack on buses carrying factory workers in Caseta, Chihuahua state.
Soldiers in Xalisco, Nayarit state, killed one suspected cartel gunman and arrested 17 others allegedly linked to the murders of 15 carwash employees in Tepic, Nayarit state.
Nine policemen were killed during an ambush in Jilotlan, Jalisco state. One officer was reported missing after the incident.
Six suspected gunmen allegedly working for an unidentified criminal organization were arrested at an unidentified location along the Monterrey-Saltillo highway. Police seized several automatic rifles, a grenade launcher, several bulletproof vests and 11 communication radios.
Soldiers arrested six suspected CPS gunmen at a safe house in Tejalpa, Morelos state.
Police arrested Francisco Javier Gomez Meza, director of the Puente Grande prison in Jalisco state, for alleged links to organized crime.
Two suspected cartel gunmen died in Cadereyta, Nuevo Leon state, after several grenades in their vehicle reportedly exploded after their vehicle crashed during a firefight with soldiers.
Unidentified gunmen killed four people at a bar in Chihuahua, Chihuahua state.
Farmers in Ixtlan de los Hervores municipality, Michoacan state, discovered three bodies in an abandoned vehicle.
Police discovered the burned body of Canadian citizen Daniel Allan Dion in the municipality of Eduardo Neri, Guerrero state.
Unidentified gunmen injured three people in the 15 de Septiembre neighborhood in Monterrey, Nuevo Leon state.
Unidentified gunmen killed the deputy police commander of Ometepec, Guerrero state.
Copyright 2010 STRATFOR.
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