Things That Matter

New Statistics Show A Sharp Decline In Violent Crimes In Sinaloa, Mexico

Despite reports in recent months concerning violence, Sinaloa officials revealed positive news this week that show a drop in homicide rates. At a press conference on Tuesday, Sinaloa Public Security chief Cristóbal Castañeda Camarillo told reporters that the number of homicides in the Mexican state was down 17 percent last year compared to 2018, 937 murders were recorded in 2019. In comparison to the beginning of the decade, there has been a 58 percent overall drop in homicides, 2,250 in 2010. 

According to Mexican officials, these huge declines can be credited to coordination between all three levels of government, state and municipal police forces in Sinaloa and the armed forces. Led by a plan by Governor Quirino Ordaz Coppel’s office, the forces worked together in being part of a “historic decrease” in not only overall homicide rates but taking down a range of other crimes in Sinaloa over the last 10 years. 

Homicide rates aren’t the only thing dropping in Sinaloa. Mexican officials say robberies, car thefts, and kidnappings have also seen declines since 2010. 

Mexican officials have praised the efforts of authorities that have contributed to these yearly declines in overall violence in Sinaloa since the start of the decade. The numbers show things are moving in the right direction as vehicle theft dropped 55 percent to 4,222 cases last year in comparison to 9,401 cases in 2010. In regards to declines from 2018 and 2019, vehicle theft dropped 28 percent, robberies fell 7 percent to 986 cases and kidnappings decreased by 25 percent to nine cases.

While homicide rates have continued to drop in Sinaloa, there is no doubt that drug cartels still have power in the region. One with the most notoriety is Joaquín ‘El Chapo’ Guzmán’s old cartel group that still wields much power.

These new numbers paint a different picture than what many still believe is a dangerous region. If there was any clearer evidence that shows that it came back in October when the Sinaloa Cartel responded retaliated to an operation to capture Ovidio Guzmán López, the son of notorious drug lord Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán. The incident left 13 people dead when the Sinaloa cartel seized control of the northern city of Culiacan in what was a successful effort to force the release of Guzmán’s son.

Iván Archivaldo Guzmán, another one of El Chapo’s son, was behind these efforts to stop the arrest of his brother. Guzmán López was being extradited on a request from Washington when law enforcement was met with an attack from armed cartel members. The incident came to a close when Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador made the decision to release Guzmán López, a move he said was made to save lives. 

That decision was widely criticized by many that had pointed to the Mexican government as basically giving in to organized crime, reinforcing the notion that cartels still have much power in the country. While data shows there has been improvement since the days of Guzmán overseeing the day-to-day operations of the Sinaloa Cartel, there is still work to be done. 

Many see these new released numbers in a different lens given they were released on the same day that President López Obrador claimed that ‘El Chapo’ once had “the same power” like his predecessors.

On the same day that Castañeda Camarillo’s report was released, President López Obrador made comments that raised some eyebrows. In a video message from the city of Palenque last week, he recapped his administration’s triumphs and some of the continued challenges ahead. He noted that much of the corruption involved from previous administrations was gone.  

“There was a time when Guzmán had the same power or had the influence that the then-president had … because there had been a conspiracy and that made it difficult to punish those who committed crimes. That has already become history, gone to the garbage dump of history. That will never occur.” López Obrador said.

But while issues like corruption seem to be fading in Mexico, violence is still prevalent and the number show it. The country is still on track to see nearly 35,000 homicides in 2019, which would break last year’s record of 33,341. While there have been declines in violence in once dangerous states like Sinaloa, there is no denying that Mexico still has a long way to go. 

READ: Mexico’s President AMLO Just Said ‘El Chapo’ Had As Much Power As The President And That’s A Big Deal

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After Last Week’s Riots, A Black Woman Has Been Appointed to U.S. Capitol Police Chief

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After Last Week’s Riots, A Black Woman Has Been Appointed to U.S. Capitol Police Chief

The Washington Post / Getty

Last week, after President Donald Trump incited riots and terrorism at the Capitol in Washington, D.C. the tenth chief of the United States Capitol Polic, Steven Sund, submitted his letter of resignation. His resignation came hours after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi condemned his reaction to the violent insurrection at the capitol and called for his termination. During a press conference, Pelosi expressed her disbelief at Sund’s failure to “even” make a call during the breach. Speaking about his lack of action, Pelosi said “There was a failure of leadership at the top of the Capitol Police,” referring to Sund.

At the time of his resignation, Sund informed members of the Capitol Police Board that his resignation will begin on Jan. 16. Now, to fill his place, the U.S. Capitol Police have appointed a Black woman as the department’s acting chief .

Two days after the riots at the Capitol, Yogananda Pittman was named the acting chief on the U. S. Capitol Police (USCP) website

Pittman joined the department in 2001 and is the first woman and first Black person to lead the organization. According to NPR, Pittman “as been with the force since April 2001 and was named acting chief on Friday, according to the U. S. Capitol Police (USCP) website. That came two days after pro-Trump extremists faced off and eventually overwhelmed security forces at the U.S. Capitol complex.”

Pittman’s career at USCP has been described as “distinguished.”

In 2012, she became one of the first Black female supervisors to rise to the rank of captain. NPR notes that “in that role, she oversaw more than 400 officers and civilians and was an integral part of the security planning for President Barack Obama’s second inauguration the following year, according to her biography… Her first assignment with the USPC was in the Senate Division, where she was assigned to provide “security and protective details for U.S. Senators and visiting dignitaries.”

Last October, Pittman was recognized as the 2020 recipient of the Women in Federal Law Enforcement’s Outstanding Advocate for Women in Federal Law Enforcement award.

“It is very important for young female law enforcement officers to see someone who looks like them in leadership positions,” Pittman said in a statement in response to her award. “It says to them that these positions are obtainable and available to them.”

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More Information Has Come Out About the Man Who Senselessly Shot a Young Woman While She Was Walking Her Dog

Things That Matter

More Information Has Come Out About the Man Who Senselessly Shot a Young Woman While She Was Walking Her Dog

Photo via bella_joy_gardens/Instagram

On June 10th, 2020, a senseless crime was committed. 21-year-old Isabella Thallas was shot and killed while she was out walking her dog with her boyfriend, 26-year-old Darian Simon. Simon, who was shot as well, survived.

Almost immediately after Thallas lost her life, the police were informed of the murderer: 36-year-old Michael Close, who lived in the same building as the couple.

Michael Close had shot the couple from his window with an AK-47. Thallas died almost instantly.

Close was quickly arrested and charged with first-degree murder, first-degree attempted murder, first-degree assault, and possession of a high-capacity magazine during a crime.

But questions piled up as to why Close committed this crime in the first place. Why did he target the couple? Was the murder pre-meditated? How did this unstable man get his hands on an AK-47?

As the police put the pieces together, the motive was shocking. According to Close, he shot and killed Thallas because her dog defecated in the alley behind his unit.

The story he gave police lined up with Darian Simon’s version of events as well. Simon says that he and Thallas were walking their dog together behind their building. Simon commanded the dog to “poop” when he heard Close yelling at him from the window above them.

“Are you going to train that f—ing dog or just yell at it?” Close allegedly yelled out the window at them. When Simon bent down to pick up the dog’s feces, that’s when Close open-fired out the window. Simon was able to run away with wounds to his lower body. Thallas lost her life.

According to Close’s girlfriend, the man had been mentally unwell for a long time.

He had been diagnosed with depression as well as a personality disorder but refused to seek help. He frequently abused drugs and alcohol after being sober for three years.

The murder of Thallas was a culmination of a tumultuous night where he had been drinking and arguing with his girlfriend for hours. Thallas just happened to be the person who was at the receiving-end of his outburst. She was at the wrong place at the wrong time.

And recently, some more disturbing information has come to light about Thallas’s murder.

According to Denver Police, the gun that Close used to murder Thallas was taken from his friend, police officer Sgt. Dan Politica.

The close friendship between a police officer and an unhinged murder is, understandably, drawing questions from the Denver community.

The Denver Police Department confirmed that Close and Politica were “close friends”. Thalla’s mother, Anna Thallas, appears to have even more information on the friendship.

“They’re best friends. Life-long best friends for over 20 years. They grew up together,” she told 9News Denver.

Anna Thallas is angry and frustrated that the Denver police aren’t conducting an internal investigation.

The DPD argues that Sgt. Politica did nothing wrong. Thallas points to his failure to report the rifle missing until after her daughter was missing as a massive red flag. It is also worth noting that Politica has a history of violence and disciplinary actions by the DPD.

According to phone records, Close texted Sgt. Politica before the murder complaining about a dog in his neighborhood. After he murdered Thallas, he left Politica a voicemail saying he “really f—-d up bad.”

“That man should be stripped of his uniform,” Anna Thallas said. “Had that officer acted in his capacity and the oath that he took to serve and protect and was a responsible gun owner, Isabella might still be alive. My daughter might still be here.”

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