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More Americans shot in Mexico

by Michael Webster Investigative Reporter Saturday, May. 10, 2008 at 11:13 AM 949 49-7121

Many Americans are wondering when the Bush administration is going to raise the travel alert to its highest level "travel warning," for American travelers to Mexico? How many American citizens are going to have to be shot, killed or kidnapped before the American government move to prevent needless deaths and issue the proper "travel warning," for Americans?

By Michael Webster: Investigative Reporter May 8, 2008 1:00 PM PDT

Four Americans were shot and wounded on Thursday as they were leaving the Arriba Chihuahua nightclub in the ProNaF tourist zone in the violent Mexican border city of Juárez. The shootings were apparently deliberate attempts on Americans. They were targeted not just random bystanders caught up in the wave of violence that has recently engulfed Juárez, Mexican authorities said.

The wounded were identified by police as Juan Manuel Contreras Machado, 32, Luz Elena Velazquez, 27, Jorge Jimenez, 21, and Alejandro Vazquez, 26. Mexican police confirmed that all four wounded are Americans and live in the border city of El Paso Texas.

Police said the victims were taken to hospitals in both Juárez and El Paso. Thomason General Hospital in El Paso confirmed that Vazquez and Jimenez are being treated there and are in stable condition.

Many Americans are wondering when the Bush administration is going to raise the travel alert to its highest level "travel warning," for American travelers to Mexico? How many American citizens are going to have to be shot, killed or kidnapped before the American government move to prevent needless deaths and issue the proper "travel warning," for Americans?

At the scene of the shooting, investigators found nine 9 mm bullet casings and a green Chevrolet Malibu with Chihuahua plates that had four gunshots in its side windows and windshield.

Since the start of the year, more than 200 people, including several law enforcement officers, have been killed in Juárez alone, in a war between the rival Sinaloa and Juárez drug cartels. Since the beginning of this year more than 3500 people have been murdered in Mexico in what authorities blame on the Mexican cartels and their criminal gangs and para-military forces. Officials claimed the rising death toll showed that criminals were panicking about the clampdown.

Last month, and only after pressure from the American press the U.S. State Department updated its travel alert for Mexico warning U.S. tourists about the ongoing violence in Mexico, including the drug battles in Juárez and other border cities. The alert, which is less serious than a "travel warning," advises visitors to travel during the day, avoid traveling alone and stick to well-known tourist zones. The four shot Americans where in that well-known zone. In fact it happened in downtown Juarez and within a very short distance from downtown El Paso Texas.

More than 50 people died in several separate incidents of related Mexican drug cartel crime in Mexico, with the most gruesome attack by cartel para-military members, occurring in the southern Guerrero state.

In Ciudad Juarez, Berenice Garcia Corral was executed by killers who went into her private home garage as she was parking her car. She was the commander of the Juarez sub-office of the state of Chihuahua's Att'y. Gen's. Sexual Crimes unit and also 2nd in command of the State Investigative Agency.

Also in Juarez, a private security guard in a bar was found dead an hour after being taken away by commandos. Still in another event, two city police officers in a parked patrol unit suffered bullet wounds from a drive by shooting by unknown persons.

In a barrage of more than 70 shots were fired in a roadway shooting that killed two men Lorenzo Juárez Aguayo, 29, and Agustin Damian Navarrete, 38, and wounded another along Avenida Vicente Guerrero in Juárez, Chihuahua state investigators reported.

The men were in a gray Crown Victoria and had just left a horse race track when they were followed by a white van, whose occupants fired multiple shots; they received multiple gunshot wounds investigators said. Juan Verdugo, 21, who was in the back seat of the car, was wounded and taken to a Juárez hospital in undisclosed condition.

The lifeless bodies of three more men were found on different streets in Juarez. All dead from stab wounds, beat to death and/or shot.

A captain of the Public Municipal Security Dep't., Saul Pena Lopez, died after having been shot during a car-to-car assault in Juarez.

In Nuevo Casas Grandes, Chihuahua, a "heavy caliber" car-to-car gunfire assault killed a lawyer, his wife and a third adult and left the dead couple's minor daughter gravely wounded. Casas Grandes Mexico is some 125 mi. SW of Ciudad Juarez.

Chihuahua, Sonora & Sinaloa experienced extreme violence as seventeen persons were executed, seven of whom were state and city police officers. At Parral, Chihuahua, two city police officers were shot and killed just two blocks away from the police station when they tried to stop subjects in a "camioneta" (read either p/u truck or SUV).

In Nogales, Sonora, a shootout between city police and "presumed criminals" resulted in four deaths, one of them an agent. Three persons were arrested and a woman relative of the thugs was later killed in Hermosillo in what was believed to be a follow-up event to those deaths.

The partially burned bodies of two men were found inside bags in Cajeme; one of them had had his legs cut off.

"Ministerial" agent Jose Manuel Pena Lopez was driving a vehicle in Mazatlan, Sinaloa, when he was shot and killed by subjects riding a motorcycle. And Miguel Angel Santa Cruz Armendariz, the state's Ministerial Police investigations coordinator was riddled by gunfire.

In Navolato, Sinaloa, the body of a beheaded man was found with a message on a tag board. Three other crimes presumable linked to organized crime took place in the states of Chiapas, Tamaulipas and Durango. Meanwhile, four police officers were killed in an ambush in the northern state of Sinaloa and a local media report said another two local police officers had also been killed.

Rival factions of the local Arellano Felix drug cartel in Tijuana on the Mexico-California border fought each other with rifles and machine guns in the early hours of the morning, police said.

Fourteen bodies lay in pools of blood, strewn along a road near assembly-for-export maquiladora plants on the city's eastern limits. The corpses were surrounded by hundreds of bullet casings and many of the victims' faces were destroyed.

A 15th body was found close by after the victim apparently tried to walk away before collapsing dead. Eight other men were wounded and taken to a local hospital where two more cartel members were sot dead by Tijuana police.

In the El Refugio section of Tijuana the body of a man was found inside a vehicle and wrapped in a blanket (note: this is a typical sign that an execution has been committed); the vehicle was left parked in front of a children's playground.

Heavily armed men killed at least 16 people, all members of a ranchers' association, in two different massacres in southern Mexico, Mexican media said.

Some 40 men riding in luxury vehicles and wearing uniforms of an elite police squad shot nine people dead in the town of Petatlan in the state of Guerrero, El Universal newspaper reported. And a group toting automatic weapons killed seven people in the town of Iguala, also in Guerrero.

Reforma newspaper said the ranchers were holding a meeting in Iguala and at least two of the sons and other family members and employees of the association's state leader, Rogaciano Alba, were killed in the attack. Alba himself has survived two other attacks in the past, Reforma said.

The newspapers did not say what could have triggered the attacks but well-armed drug traffickers are active in Guerrero, a poor, mountainous state on the Pacific coast home to the Acapulco beach resort. Clashes over land rights or local politics are also common in Guerrero.

The number of dead in the war against narcotraffic already exceeds three thousand 500 hundred. On average, 205 members of the different factions have died on a monthly basis between Dec. 2006 and April of this year. In contrast, the monthly average of U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq is around 100.

President Felipe Calderon has warned that the narco-war would bring with it an elevated cost in human lives, but the specialists in the matter point out that the level of violence was underestimated. The president of the "CNDH" (Mex. Natn'l. Commission on Human Rights), Jose Luis Soberanes, warns that the capacity of the State has been surpassed and that more forceful means are due.

Since December 2006, President Felipe Calderon's Federal Government has deployed 36,000 military troops and thousands of police around the country in an operation aimed at clamping down on Mexican drug cartels and other organized crime. Many local and state officials think more troops are needed and feel like the troops are losing the battle. The Mexican drug cartel violence has plagued the country since before he took office. Just in March of this year, the Mexican government sent more than 2,500 soldiers and federal police officers to curb the violence in the border city of Juárez. Killings slowed for a few weeks after the arrival of federal forces but appear to have recently resumed. Now many Mexicans believe the cartels have the upper hand and are continuing the horrible global drug business that terrorizes many Mexican families.

For related articles go to:


Mexico Attorney General’s office

Mexican Military officers

The president of the "CNDH" (Mex. Natn'l. Commission on Human Rights), Jose Luis Soberanes

Juarez police Dept.

Reforma newspaper

El Universal newspaper

Tijuana police

U.S. State Department

The National Association Of Former Border Patrol Officers

Borderfire Report

Laguna Journal

El Paso Times

The San Diego Union-Tribune

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