Explorations in Policing, Faith and Life (With a hint of humor, product reviews, news and whatever catches my attention)

Monday, December 21, 2009

Arturo Beltrán Leyva is Dead

There is a little bit less evil in the world now.

A tip of the hat to the Mexican Military

From The Times December 18, 2009

Mexico's drug 'Boss of Bosses' shot dead in raid on luxury hideout

Mexico was celebrating a rare victory in its war on drugs yesterday after one of the country’s most notorious traffickers was killed in a two-hour gun battle after 200 Navy Marines stormed his luxury hideout.

Arturo Beltrán Leyva, known as the “Boss of Bosses”, died along with six of his henchmen after the Marines surrounded a complex of flats in Cuernavaca, a holiday town south of Mexico City. Beltrán Leyva, also wanted in the US, was the highest-ranking figure to be taken out by the authorities and his death marks the biggest success yet in President Calderón’s campaign to stamp out the drugs trade.

The Marines, among Mr Calderón’s best-trained — and least corrupt — forces, had been planning the assault for months. They had tracked Beltrán Leyva’s movements since Friday, when they narrowly failed to capture him.

Elite forces closed Cuernavaca’s roads and surrounded the complex of tower blocks. The 200 armed sailors, many arriving by helicopter, searched and evacuated the apartments and cut off communications in the area.

An intense battle ensued in which Beltrán Leyva and his men were killed. One, realising that he was surrounded, committed suicide. Beltrán Leyva’s body remained at the scene yesterday, a large gold medallion still in his hands.

Two sailors were wounded and one died when the gang hurled grenades at them. One civilian, driving past at the time, was killed in the crossfire.

Mr Calderón described the operation as “a decisive blow against one of the most dangerous criminal organisations in Mexico and the continent”. A spokesman for the Marines, Admiral José Luis Vergara, hailed the operation’s success and endorsed Mr Calderón’s promise to “carry the war against organised crime to its ultimate consequences”.

Beltrán Leyva, who had a $2.1 million (£1.3 million) price on his head, was a leader of the Sinaloa cartel until he and his four brothers split off last year and aligned themselves with Los Zetas, a group of former soldiers hired by the rival Gulf cartel as hitmen. The split is thought to have fuelled much of the recent bloodshed.

One of his brothers, Alfredo, was arrested in January 2008, in the Calderón administration’s first major success of the war on drugs. The Beltrán Leyva brothers had accused Joaquín Guzmán, the head of the Sinaloa cartel, of treason, and launched a series of bloody reprisals against him, including the killing of his son.

Among his crimes, Beltrán Leyva is accused of smuggling tonnes of cocaine and heroin, laundering money through a professional football team, and bribing hundreds of Mexican officials. According to US officials, he was guilty of multiple killings and beheadings and was responsible for much violent infighting between rival cartels.

On Wednesday morning, hours before he died, two dismembered bodies were found in plastic bags in the state of Guerrero with a note signed “The Boss of Bosses”.

Beltrán Leyva is the biggest prize yet of Mexico’s war on drugs, in which 14,000 people have been killed and 49,000 troops deployed since the beginning of Mr Calderón’s term in 2006.
The operation has been hailed by Washington as a decisive move. “We have begun having an impact against the drug traffickers,” Carlos Pascual, the US Ambassador to Mexico, said. “I don’t think it’s because we are doing something wrong.”

The two countries have pledged to work closer together to address the drugs trade. Five Bell helicopters were given to Mexico by the US as part of the Merida initiative, a three-year pact between the nations to fight the drug cartels.

This week has been one of the bloodiest yet in Mexico’s drug war, with multiple killings across the country. The general increase in violence is being seen by Mexican authorities as a sign that the war on drugs is finally making inroads. The drug cartels, they say, are weakening under the pressure of infighting and repeated hits from military and police operations, and are resorting to extreme, chaotic attacks.

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