Things That Matter

Drug Cartel Invades A Mexican City And The Resulting Gun Battle Has Left At Least 21 Dead

Mexico continues to be rattled by drug cartel violence and this latest attack, in the north of the country, has Mexicans particularly shocked. So far, 2019 has already seen record violence and homicides. Despite plans from the current federal government, headed by President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO), the violence situation across the country has only deteriorated.

A Mexican cartel gun battle near the Texas border leaves 21 dead.

Armed gunmen stormed Villa Union, a town near the Texas border with Coahuila state, on Saturday and attacked local government offices, including that of the mayor. Security forces responded, and 10 gunmen and four policemen were killed during the resulting shootout in the village. Seven additional cartel members were killed by security forces after the attackers fled.

The gunmen peppered the Villa Unión’s mayor’s office with bullets and state police pursued the gang members after they fled the town, killing seven more in the early hours of Sunday, the Coahuila government said in a statement.

The events in Villa Union add to a series of recent security lapses that have raised doubts about the containment strategy of the Mexican president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who took office a year ago pledging to get a grip on chronic gang violence.

Cartels have been contending for control of smuggling routes in northern Mexico, but there was no immediate evidence that a rival cartel had been targeted in Villa Union.

Credit: Gerardo Sanchez

The Coahuila state government said in a statement that lawmen aided by helicopters were still chasing remnants of the force that arrived in a convoy of pickup trucks and attacked the city hall of Villa Union on Saturday.
Governor Miguel Angel Riquelme said late Sunday afternoon that authorities had determined the casualty count from the gunbattles stood at 14 gunmen dead and four police officers killed. He said two civilians also were slain by gunmen after being abducted. The governor said six more officers were wounded as were four young people who had been taken by the attackers.

Francisco Contreras, an official in the state security agency, said later that the two slain civilians were a firefighter and an engineer who worked for the municipality. He said a second firefighter was missing. The reason for the military-style attack remained unclear.

The attack comes days after President Trump announced he wants to label Mexican drug cartels as terrorist organizations.

The attack will likely fuel Trump’s argument for categorizing drug cartels as “foreign terrorist organizations,” just as groups like al-Qaeda, ISIS, and Boko Haram are classified. He has a history of seeing drug cartels as a major threat and often cites the cartels in stump speeches about the need to build a wall on the US-Mexico border. Trump’s latest position on the cartels, however, has alarmed a number of experts because it could give the president license to use US military force against the groups without authorization from the Mexican government. 

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has made it clear that he will not allow foreign intervention, and has offered to increase cooperation with the US on fighting drug gangs instead, according to Al Jazeera. His government already works with the US intelligence community and drug and law enforcement officials from the State Department to combat cartel violence. 

“Since 1914, there hasn’t been a foreign intervention in Mexico and we cannot permit that,” López Obrador said at a news conference on Friday. “Armed foreigners cannot intervene in our territory.”

One thing is clear, Mexico is facing extreme violence and its citizens are paying the ultimate price.

Mexico’s homicide rate has increased to historically high levels, inching up by 2 per cent in the first 10 months of the presidency of Andrés Manuel López Obrador. Federal officials said recently that there have been 29,414 homicides so far in 2019, compared to 28,869 in the same period of 2018.

The November slaughter by Mexican drug cartel gunmen of three women who held US citizenship and six of their children focused world attention on the rising violence.

Saturday’s attack also showed cartels again resorting to quasi-military operations in a brazen challenge to state authority.

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This Mexican College Student Is Going Viral For Breeding the Largest Bunnies In the World

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This Mexican College Student Is Going Viral For Breeding the Largest Bunnies In the World

Photo via yakinkiro/Instagram

Look out Bad Bunny. There’s another breed of bunny in town that’s taking the internet by storm. A college student in Mexico recently went viral for the oddest thing. He has genetically engineered a strain of rabbits to be the largest in the world.

21-year-old Kiro Yakin has become a viral sensation after internet users have seen him with pictures of the giant bunnies he genetically engineered.

Yakin, a student at the Benemérita Universidad Autónoma de Puebla on the Xicotepec campus, is studying veterinary and animal husbandry. He began his experimentation by breeding two unique rabbit types together. The Flemish Giant rabbit and other, longer-eared bunnies that Yakin happened to notice. As a result, his monster-bunny was born.

According to Yakin, his experimental bunnies grow up to 22 pounds  Flemish Giant, while the average Flemish giant weighs 15 pounds. But make no mistake, Yakin’s bunny experiment was no accident. “It takes an average of 3 to 4 years to reproduce this giant species,” he told Sintesis.

Yakin’s ultimate goal is to breed a rabbit that can grow up to 30 pounds. “I am currently studying genetics to see how to grow this breed of giant rabbits more,” he said.

Yakin, who has had a soft spot for rabbits since he was a child (pun intended), now cares for a whopping fifty giant rabbits out of his parents’ home.

Luckily, his parents are supportive enough of his dream that they support their son (and his bunnies) financially. “I have the financial support and support of my parents to buy food a week for all 50 giant rabbits,” Yakin told Sintesis.

But he also admitted his project has a long way to go. “So far I have not set aside the time or budget that is required to start the project more seriously,” he said.

The only thing that’s preventing Yakin from committing all his time and energy to creating even bigger bunnies is–what else?–money.

Photo via yakinkiro/Instagram

Although he already submitted a proposal to his university to try and expand his research, as of now, he is self-financed. However, Yakin makes a bit of extra cash by selling the giant bunnies to private customers.

His ultimate goal though, is to open up a large, professional farm where he can breed and cross-breed his bunnies to his heart’s content.

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A New Map Shows Where Cartels Have Control In The U.S. But Cartel Bosses Say It’s All Wrong

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A New Map Shows Where Cartels Have Control In The U.S. But Cartel Bosses Say It’s All Wrong

It’s long been known that international drug cartels operate within the United States. Cartels from across the world have setup shop in major cities across the country to help ensure they can move product from manufacturing bases in Latin America and Asia to consumer markets from Los Angeles to New York.

And now a new report from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) allegedly shows the extent of these operations and where certain cartels have more authority. But not everyone is buying the data, including the cartels themselves who are disputing the report.

A DEA report on drugs and drug trafficking details what the agency calls cartel influence in the US.

The DEA recently released its annual National Drug Threat Assessment, in which it maps out the states where Mexican drug cartels have gained “influence.”

The DEA’s report said Mexican transnational criminal organizations (TCOs) “maintain great influence” in most US states, with the Sinaloa cartel and the Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generación showing the “biggest signs of expansion.”

A map included in the report labeled the Sinaloa cartel, Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generación, Cartel del Golfo, Organización de Beltran-Leyva, and Los Rojos as the most “influential” drug organizations, with presence in Texas, California, Arizona, New Mexico, Chicago, New York, Florida, Kansas, Colorado, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico.

When they were asked about that depiction of cartel presence in the US, security experts and cartel sources told Insider “it’s bulls—.”

So where do these cartels allegedly have the most influence?

DEA map cartel influence in US

The report described the Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generación as “one of the fastest growing cartels” and said the organization “smuggles illicit drugs into the United States by accessing various trafficking corridors in northern Mexico along the SWB including Tijuana, Juarez and Nuevo Laredo.”

“The cartels dominate the drug trade influencing the United States market, with most cartels having a poly drug market approach that allows for maximum flexibility and resiliency of their operations,” the report said.

An operative for Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generación said the organization had a large group of members in Mexico who are “mostly on the armed side of the operations,” while most contacts in the US were clients.

“Most of what we can call members of the Jalisco organization are on the arms, like sicarios and some producers that are on a payroll. But everyone else is either a client we are selling to or an association to have access to certain route” for distribution in the US, he said.

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