Washington Post/AP: Mexican soldiers rescue 15 Honduran migrants being held for ransom in northern border city

"MEXICO CITY — Mexico’s Defense Department says soldiers have rescued 15 Honduran migrants who had been kidnapped and were being held in a house in Nuevo Laredo on the border with the United States.

The military says troops patroling in the Privada Esmeralda neighborhood on Monday detained a man who was watching over the migrants.

A statement Wednesday gives no other details of the rescue in Nuevo Laredo, which is across the border from Laredo, Texas.

Soldiers and federal police have been increasingly rescuing migrants kidnapped by drug cartels. Authorities say migrants are kidnapped for ransom or to be forced to work for the crime syndicates."  Link to story.


LA Times: Texan warns Obama – Mexican cartels ‘spilling over’ border

"Texas Atty. Gen. Greg Abbott sent a letter to President Obama on Wednesday warning that Mexican cartel violence is increasingly 'spilling over' the border and calling for more security.

Abbott cited a 'deadly shootout' involving 'cartel operatives' last weekend in the town of Elsa, about 250 miles south of San Antonio, in which a Hidalgo County sheriff's deputy was shot three times. Sheriff's officials have said the deputy was wearing a protective vest and is expected to recover.

Two suspects were charged Wednesday in connection with the attempted drug deal and kidnapping, a contract job to recover a lost load of marijuana for the Gulf Cartel, according to a KRGV-Rio Grande Valley interview with Hidalgo Sheriff Lupe Trevino. Carlos Zavala and Carlos Juan Hernandez were charged with three counts of aggravated kidnapping and two counts of criminal attempted capital murder.

'Thankfully the officer survived, but the Hidalgo County Sheriff confirmed that the shooting spilled over from ongoing drug wars involving the Gulf Cartel in Mexico,' Abbott said, noting the shooting was not an isolated incident.

During the last two weeks, he said, three 'high-level cartel leaders' have been arrested while hiding in Texas."  Read more …


Fox News Latino: US Authorities Arrest Boss Of Mexico’s Gulf Cartel

"The alleged leader of the Gulf cartel in the Mexican city of Matamoros was arrested last week by U.S. authorities, according to a local Texas newspaper.

José Luis Zuniga Hernández, alias 'Comandante Wicho,' was arrested by U.S. Border Patrol agents Wednesday near the small town of Santa Maria, Texas. 

Zuniga 'freely admitted' to being a Mexican national in the U.S. without the proper documentation to reside in the country and was found to be in possession of a .38-caliber handgun, according to the Monitor newspaper in Texas."  Read more …


Houston Examiner Opinion: All that’s left is lawlessness

"While the ATF was letting guns walk across the border, the Obama administration, Homeland Security and Gov. Rick Perry was letting marijuana and a host of other drugs walk into the country, Texas and Arizona.

Now if you're from these parts of Texas, this would be the results of a certain party banking on beefing up a voter base and another certain party attracting business to Texas. This bit of information proves without doubt, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano is clueless on the border.

Mexico's drug cartels, on a interesting note, are more business savvy then the Obama administration and Perry's Texas. Unofficially speaking, cartels have created more jobs in the country then the stimulus package. They'd take a back seat to Perry's job creation among illegal immigrants though."


SA Express News: Are narcos hiding out in Texas?

"Two alleged Gulf Cartel leaders arrested last week in South Texas likely were hiding out north of the border to avoid the extreme violence caused by warring cartels in Mexico, analysts said.

These cartel capos are potential gold mines of information for law enforcement, but the schisms they're fleeing may have spilled into the U.S. in two recent incidents, they said. And the demise of these bosses works to the benefit of their opponents across the river.

Border Patrol agents on Thursday arrested Eudoxio Ramos Garcia, 34, at a house in Rio Grande City. Ramos is the Gulf Cartel's former plaza boss, or regional commander, for the Mexican border city of Miguel Alemán, according to court documents."  Read more …


NYT: 76 Arrested as Officials Break Up Mexico-to-Arizona Drug-Smuggling Ring

"PHOENIX — Law enforcement officials on Monday announced the breakup of a large drug-smuggling ring that used lookouts on hilltops in southern Arizona to move huge quantities of marijuana and other drugs across the Mexican border to users throughout the United States.

Over the last month and a half, federal, state and local officials have arrested 76 people, from organizational bosses to stash-house guards to those who transported the drugs in backpacks and in vehicles, the authorities said. All were linked to the Sinaloa cartel run by Joaquín Guzmán, Mexico’s richest and most wanted outlaw, who goes by the nickname El Chapo, officials said.

Speaking at a news conference on Monday, Arizona officials estimated that the ring had been in operation for at least five years and had generated more than $2 billion in profits by smuggling more than three million pounds of marijuana, 20,000 pounds of cocaine and 10,000 pounds of heroin into the United States. Such large smuggling rings usually use tractor-trailers to get their contraband across, the authorities said, but this operation relied mostly on migrants on foot straining under their loads."  Read more …


EPT: Mexican drug cartels strengthen ties with US gangs

"Mexican drug cartels are strengthening alliances with gangs in the United States beyond ethnic, ideological and geographic boundaries, warns a new report from the federal National Gang Intelligence Center.

The gang-cartel link is most prominently seen in El Paso between the Barrio Azteca gang and the Juárez drug cartel, but similar alliances are emerging in various parts of the country, according to the 2011 National Gang Threat Assessment.

El Paso police report a drop in gang membership and criminal gang activity, but nationally, gangs are expanding, evolving and becoming more sophisticated, the National Gang Threat Assessment reported.

'Federal, state and local law enforcement officials are observing a growing nexus between the Mexican drug cartels, illegal alien smuggling rings and U.S.-based gangs,' the study stated.

The recently released report stated that different cartels are aligned with various gangs, including gangs that work with more than one cartel, depending on the situation.

Local law enforcement officers said most street gangs in El Paso don't deal directly with Mexican cartels, but the alliance between the Barrio Azteca gang and the Juárez drug cartel is well documented.

The Barrio Azteca was formed in the mid-1980s by El Pasoans in state prison and has since grown into one of the most active regional crime networks, having branches in Juárez and Midland-Odessa." Read more …


Austin Statesman: Three Predator drones added to border fleet


Three Predator drones added to border fleet

"WASHINGTON — The Homeland Security Department is adding three drone aircraft, including one in Texas, to a fleet used mostly to patrol the border with Mexico, although it doesn't have enough pilots to operate the seven Predators it already has. The drones are being purchased after lobbying by members of the so-called drone caucus in Congress, many from Southern California, a hub of the drone aircraft industry. 'We didn't ask for them,' a Homeland Security official told the Tribune Washington Bureau on condition of anonymity. A new Predator B will arrive in Corpus Christi within days. Another Predator is slated for delivery to Arizona by year-end. A third drone will be based at Cape Canaveral, Fla., early next year." Link to article.


EPT: Cathedral High School students cope after classmates killed in Juarez

"A new student organization at Cathedral High School is working to keep more than just the memories of two slain classmates alive.

It's looking to keep hope alive.

'We don't want them to have died in vain. We want them to be remembered,' said 17-year-old Carlos Gomez, president of the Hope Without Borders student organization. 'We hope El Paso comes together to support our sister city and all victims of crime in our region.'

Members of Hope Without Borders at the private school for boys will work to educate youth about the impact of crime on others, what they can do to support crime victims and the importance of grieving.

The group was formed this fall after students sought a way to cope with the deaths last year of two of their friends and classmates.

Carlos Mario Gonzalez Bermudez, 16, a sophomore at Cathedral, and Juan Carlos Echeverri Jr., 15, a sophomore at Radford School, were killed at a used-car dealership in Juárez in February. Like many of their classmates, Bermudez and Echeverri lived in Juárez but attended the private schools in El Paso.

'It truly hit them hard, and as a parent I hope it helps their healing,' said Gomez's mother, Margarita Gomez, a licensed grief counselor and parent volunteer at Cathedral.

'I'm very proud of them for trying to make a difference in the community, for not letting this tragic event go without something positive coming out of it,' she said." Read more …


Houston Chronicle: Nephew of Mexican cartel kingpin busted in Texas

"The up-and-coming nephew of imprisoned Gulf Cartel king Osiel Cardenas Guillen is in U.S. custody after being arrested in deep South Texas, where he had decked out a luxury home, concealed his identity and was hiding from both the law and his fellow Mexican underworld rivals.

Rafael Cardenas Vela was wearing pink shorts and loafers while being driven to South Padre Island by his bodyguards when their pickup was pulled over by police, who were working with federal agents and had been tipped to his whereabouts.

Cardenas, apparently 38 years old, admitted to traveling under another man's passport as well as an immigration permit to enter the United States, and that for years he has smuggled marijuana and cocaine, according to an affidavit made public Tuesday.

His arrest is seen as especially significant, as he is believed to not only have climbed the ranks of the family business but have been a possible protégé of his infamous uncle, convicted in Houston and locked away in the Supermax prison in Colorado.

'He was giving orders,' a law-enforcement official speaking anonymously said of the younger Cardenas. 'He was coming up, his name was coming up more and more.'"  Read more …