Thursday, March 17, 2016

Borderland Beat has covered the violence and chaos that erupted in Reynosa this past weekend that was precipitated by a government operation to "take down" an alleged drug kingpin. That individual, Cheoflas Martinez, is not exactly a major organized crime figure...

Borderland Beat

Link to Borderland Beat

Looking For Answers; Reynosa 

Posted: 16 Mar 2016 04:56 PM PDT

Posted by DD. Republished from Silver or Lead

Borderland Beat has covered the violence and chaos that erupted in Reynosa this past weekend that was precipitated by a government operation to "take down" an alleged drug kingpin.  That individual, Cheoflas Martinez, is not exactly a major organized crime figure.  

Alejandro Hope* (see resume following the story), a well respected and leading analyst and thinker on Mexican politics and the Mexican drug wars, has given BB permission to  republish  today's issue of Silver and Lead wherein he asks the question WHY all this violence occurred and gives his views   


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Fire on the border. This weekend, a furious and prolonged shootout erupted in the border city of Reynosa, leaving at least nine people dead. The cause: an operation to capture a kingpin, who, of all places, was watching horse races in Mexico City while the battle raged (he was detained in the nation’s capital the next day). This individual, Cleofas Martínez, is not exactly a major organized crime figure. He is the head of a faction of what was once the Gulf Cartel (CDG) and his crew has been fighting other similar gangs for control of drug routes and extortion rights in Reynosa. Yet an attempt to detain him was enough to produce chaos in a city of 600 thousand inhabitants. Why?
  1. The authorities are stuck on the kingpin strategy. The successor gangs of the CDG or the Zetas are small enough to try to dismantle them whole in one fell swoop, not just cut their head. But that requires a more patient and intelligence-heavy approach than a straight kingpin takedown. Since the capabilities of Mexican agencies are not quite there, they do what they have learned to do (capturing individual capos), even if that creates battle scenes in urban areas.
  2. Mexican agencies should know by now that trying to take down a kingpin in Tamaulipas leads to a) prolonged shootouts and b) blockades. The same thing has happened time and time again. But still there were no visible preventive measures (such as readying tow trucks to quickly remove blockades). Somehow there is very little institutional learning in Mexican security agencies.
  3. Tamaulipas has not developed law enforcement institutions that can provide a modicum of peace and order. So the job falls on the armed forces, who tend to be heavy-handed in their dealings with organized crime.
  4. Fragmentation has yet to run its course in Tamaulipas. No single gang is dominant in the state and no one seems able to impose some order in the criminal underworld. That creates an opening for hyper violent local criminals with very short time horizons. 
Bottom line. This is not the first time that gun battles have erupted in the border towns of Tamaulipas. It will certainly not be the last time either. Expect disorder to continue in that troubled state for a long time to come.        
This and that 
Tapping the pipelines. One would have thought that low oil prices would have created a disincentive for fuel theft. One would be wrong. Details here.
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*Alejandro Hope is on the Board of Directors of Insight Crime and Director of Security at the Instituto Mexicano para La Competitividad (IMCO). Prior to his current position, Hope served various management positions at the Center for Investigation and National Security (CISEN) between 2008 and 2011. Between 2001 and 2008, he worked as a consulting partner at Group of Economists and Associates (GEA), a consulting firm specializing in economic and political analysis. He has a degree in Political Science from the University of Pennsylvania and is a Ph.D. candidate in the same subject.