Things That Matter

The US Is Sending Migrants To The Same Mexican Cities It Advises Its Own Citizens To Avoid Due To Unprecedented Violence

Cartel violence and gun battles have killed at least three people this week in the Mexican border city Nuevo Laredo. Now, the United States consulate has issued a security alert, warning employees to take extra precautions as more violence looms. 

While government employees can expect some protections, asylum-seeking migrants who were sent to the region under the Migrant Protections Protocol (MPP), also known as the “Remain in Mexico” policy, have not been extended such kindness. 

Under MPP, migrants who want to apply for asylum in the United States must await their hearings and cases in Mexico. According to Reuters, President Donald Trump has expressed an urge to designate cartels as terrorist organizations due to increasing cruelties. In November, cartels murdered three women and six children with dual U.S.-Mexican citizenship.

U.S. Consulate in Nuevo Laredo issues statement on Twitter. 

“SECURITY ALERT: The Consulate has received reports of multiple gunfights throughout the city of Nuevo Laredo. U.S. government personnel are advised to shelter in place,” the tweet read.

The consulate advised employees to take shelter and notify others of their whereabouts. Today, Twitter users in the region reported hearing gunfire and attacks in Nuevo Laredo. Francisco Cabeza de Vaca, the governor of Tamaulipas, the state where Nuevo Laredo is located, said he held the cartel responsible in a series of tweets. 

THERE IS NO TRUCE AGAINST THE VIOLENT – Following the attacks on the State Police of #Tamaulipas by the CDN (Cartel del Norte), Governor @fgcabezadevaca endorses his commitment to safeguarding peace and the rule of law using all the force of the state,” Cabeza de Vaca said according to a tweet translated by the Yucatan Times

Migrants in Nuevo Laredo have become easy targets of the cartel. 

Violence and targeted attacks of migrants have occurred in the region since the summer. According to CBS, as of October, over 51,000 asylum seekers have been sent to Mexico under MPP. In August, NPR reported that around 4,500 had been sent to Nuevo Laredo nicknamed los caminos de carteles. 

The area is essentially a smuggling route for cartels and now it is where vulnerable migrants are dropped off. Asylum-seekers are left to fend for themselves in one of six available shelters in the dangerous city as they await court dates in the U.S. up to four months away. 

“Nuevo Laredo is more dangerous than San Pedro Sula, Honduras,” Cesar Antunes, a migrant dumped in the area told NPR, “which is where I fled from.”

The cartel is able to run without impunity. Violence breaks out and ordinary civilians are the collateral. Sometimes they are targets of kidnapping and extortion plots. Mexico’s National Immigration Institute provides migrants with free bus trips to safer areas like Monterrey and Tapachula. However, these bus trips have become cartel targets too. 

According to NPR, in one incident cartel members hijacked a bus and kidnapped a dozen migrants then drove off. Cesar Antunes was on the bus. 

“In this area right here this is safety for them, but if you just walk out that door it is not safe, that the cartels come by to pick them up to kidnap them,” Marvin Torres, a migrant living at a Nuevo Laredo shelter, told CBS.

Despite numerous incidents of extortion, violence, and kidnapping U.S. Customs and Border Protection says they had no idea migrants are targets of the cartel. 

Acting Commissioner of CBP Mark Morgan told NPR in August that MPP was a “game-changer” because it reduced the number of migrants in CBP custody. When asked about the violence against migrants MPP has caused, Morgan feigned ignorance.

“I haven’t heard anything like that,” Morgan said. “Not with respect to the MPP program. We have received no reports of kidnappings and extortion of migrants. Those are just rumors. You can’t believe everything those people say.”

Perhaps, Morgan is the one spreading conspiracy theories. Liceth Morales and her 6-year-old son were kidnapped for three weeks by the cartel, forcing her family in Texas to pay $8,000 in ransom money to free her. 

“When they released us, we immediately crossed the bridge to the U.S. to ask for asylum,” she says. “But they sent me right back over here.”

Morales decided to just go back home to Choluteca where her small store had been repeatedly robbed. Compared to waiting in Nuevo Laredo for two months, it was the safer alternative. The result of MPP is that many migrants have decided to just go back home. Many migrant advocates feel that the Mexican government has made Nuevo Laredo the home of Central American asylum-seekers because the Mexican government never wanted them there in the first place. 

“[It] is the perfect excuse to get rid of them because the government doesn’t want them here,” Father Julio Lopez, director of the Nazareth Migrant House, told NPR. 

The Bodies Of A California Couple Were Found On Their Tijuana Property And Now Police Have Uncovered Two More

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The Bodies Of A California Couple Were Found On Their Tijuana Property And Now Police Have Uncovered Two More

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Last week a California couple was reported missing by their family in Garden Grove – a suburb of Los Angeles. The couple had traveled to Tijuana (where they were originally from) to collect the rent from the tenant who was living on their property. Unfortunately, they never returned home.

With the ever increasing violence in Tijuana, their family feared the worse and a few days later was confirmed when police located their bodies. However, the story continues to develop as a total of three more bodies have been found on their property.

Investigators say that two more bodies (for a total of 5) have been discovered on a Tijuana property where a California couple disappeared.

Credit: Fiscalía General / Baja California

Jesus Ruben Lopez Guillen, 70, and his wife Maria Teresa Lopez, 65, of Garden Grove, a couple with dual U.S.-Mexico citizenship, vanished on January 10 after they crossed the border to collect more than $6,700 in rent from tenants of two houses they owned in Tijuana. Their bodies turned up in one of the houses, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported, citing Mexican investigators.

The attorney general’s office for the state of Baja California, just south of San Diego, said late Saturday the second set of bodies – one male and the other female – are in a state of advanced decomposition. All four bodies were covered in lime when they were found by investigators.

The story started when the couple traveled to Tijuana to collect rent on properties they owned – and then never returned to California.

Credit: Garden Grove Police Department

When the couple failed to return home the next day, their daughter, Norma Lopez, reported the couple missing.

Garden Grove police opened a missing person case after the Guilléns were reported missing. Garden Grove police Lt. Carl Whitney said their daughter had been tracking her parents though the Find My iPhone app, which last showed the couple at their property in the Colonia Obrero neighborhood south of downtown Tijuana, about four miles from the U.S.-Mexico border. Then the phone went dead, and she could not track them anymore, Whitney said.

Police have since arrested their son-in-law in connection with the murders.

The man accused of killing the couple, their son-in-law, was ordered by a judge to remain in police custody while the state’s prosector’s office continues to gather evidence. According to authorities, they likely have enough evidence to charge him the murders of each of the victims found on the two properties.

Authorities suspect the man killed his in-laws in a dispute over money. They say he confessed to burying them on one of their properties, where he lived.

The judge during the hearing Sunday ruled Santiago will remain in jail under “forced disappearance” charges.

A “forced disappearance” charge is not as serious as a homicide charge, but it is still a felony in Mexico. It means the man is accused of trying to make the couple disappear. The charge can be used in cases of living or deceased victims. The man also was accused of something similar to obstruction of justice, for allegedly misleading investigators and refusing to assist in the investigation.

Prosecutors said investigators have obtained cell phone records, text messages and video camera footage of the defendant and of the victims’ truck — evidence prosecutors said contradicted his statements to police.

Mexican Security Forces Just Killed La Catrina – One Of Mexico’s Most Famous Cartel Leaders And Not Everyone Approves

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Mexican Security Forces Just Killed La Catrina – One Of Mexico’s Most Famous Cartel Leaders And Not Everyone Approves

@MarinaNacionalMX / Twitter

The cartel wars in Mexico have produced their fair share of larger-than-life characters and stories of success and terrible failure that have to be read to be believed. Such is the case of La Catrina, a hitwoman for the vicious Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generacion (CJNG), which after the demise of Los Zetas and considered the somewhat diminished capacities of the Sinaloa Cartel has surged as the most powerful and violent drug trafficking organization in the world. As Post Media News reminds us, the CJNG is perhaps one of the most complex global players in trafficking, and “responsible for trafficking many tons of cocaine, methamphetamine and fentanyl-laced heroin into the United States, as well as for violence and significant loss of life in Mexico. The cartel is said to operate in 75 per cent of Mexican states, and to have operations in Europe, Asia and Australia as well as across the Americas”. Its leader Nemesio Oseguera Cervantes “El Mencho” is one of the most wanted criminals in the world. 

Among its ranks, the CJNG has had some female dealers and killers. Among them, the most legendary and powerful was a young woman of vicious looks, a killing fashionista by the moniker of La Catrina. She was only 21-years-old, but was known for her savage methods.  Her real name:  María Guadalupe López Esquivel. As CE Noticias Financieras reminds us, she was born and raised in one of the most violent regions of the country: “Although she was born in Buenavista, María Guadalupe was taken to live in Tepalcatepec, where she attended primary school, counted by settlers from that municipality of Tierra Caliente”. 

La Catrina was a sicaria and led a group of assassins who were accused of ambushing a police convoy.

La Catrina committed the ultimate crime in the world of the Mexican cartel wars: she and her sicarios ambushed a police convoy and ended the lives of 13 officers in the much disputed state of Michoacan. She then became a prime target for the army and the newly formed Guardia Nacional. La Catrina was infamous for her bloody methods and cruelness. 

She got into the cartel when she fell in love with one of its most powerful members.

As often happens, she was led into a life of crime out of love, as she started dating one of the cartel strongmen. As news.com.au reports: “It is believed that La Catrina joined the CJNG in 2017, having fallen in love with another leader, Miguel “El M2” Fernandez. She rose rapidly through the ranks under El M2, living a glamorous lifestyle within the cartel. When she died she was in charge of paying fellow criminals and lead assassinations, extortion and kidnappings”. She often flaunted her lavish lifestyle on social media, posing in designer clothes and holding weapons made out of pure gold. 

An online bodycam video shows the moment when security forces found her gasping for air as a river of blood emanated from her neck.

The video is a gruesome reminder of the consequences that individuals who decide to dedicate their lives to crime might ultimately face. As the camera approaches we can see a young woman dressed in sweatpants and what seems to be a hoodie sitting on the floor. She is gasping for air and the sound is chilling, a premonition of certain death. The soldier tells her “hang on, mija, we are waiting for a helicopter to take you.”

But as luck would have it, it was way to late and the sad legend of La Catrina was born. It was a moment that will perhaps be turned into a movie scene someday, as Post Media News reports: “An amateur tourniquet draped around her neck, she can be seen sitting slumped in the dust beside a wall, blood dripping from her hand and neck as she gasps for breath. Glancing up at the officer approaching her, she seems resigned to her fate.”

She died while arrested, as a helicopter was trying to take her to hospital.

The mission in which La Catrina was killed and six other cartel members were captured involved state trooperes, state police and the National Guard. It all happened in a village called La Bocanada in Tepalcatepec, Michoacán, a territory known for the cruel disputes among cartels. They were found in a safe house after a tip led the authorities to capture one of the CJNG’s biggest fish.

La Catrina’s death is a big step, at least in terms of media reach, for the AMLO government, which has failed to reign in the cartels and has so far been unsuccessful in curbing violence and killings in the country. 2019 was the bloodiest year to date in modern Mexican history and the government seems to be at the mercy of the cartels.