April 26, 2010: The U.S. government continues to be dismayed with the progress on the so-called virtual fence, the array of radar, image sensors, and acoustic sensors that was originally touted as the 21st century solution to border security. In March the Department of Homeland Security cut back on funding the virtual fence. Now a number of senior legislators want the project halted or scrapped, arguing regular, low-tech fencing is not only budget-friendly but more reliable. Two U.S. senators want to add another 3,000 Customs and Border Patrol agents to the border by 2015. The one thing everyone seem to agree is useful, including Mexican authorities, is Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs). There are other UAVs besides Predator, but Predator has become the generic term for surveillance UAVs. UAVs are a psychological weapon. Smugglers (both dope and people smugglers) never know when they are being watched if there are UAVs operation in the area.
April 25, 2010: Mexican officials acknowledge that there is more Cartel War-related violence in the interior than there was last year. In other words, it has crept south from the border. The city of Monterrey and Mexico City have had their share of drug gang violence, but Monterrey has been the scene recently of some spectacular cartel slayings and shoot-outs. The government argues the cartels are launching the attacks in an attempt to shake-up the army and police, and damage the government’s credibility. Security officials say some of the violence amounts to battles between cartel lieutenants to fill senior leadership positions. A number of senior cartel leaders have been arrested or slain in the last eight months. The army has made life in the border trafficking zones very tough for the cartelistas. Police say they have pressurized the border and the pressure is going to increase over the next few months. Critics, however, argue the drug gangs are demonstrating that they can strike anywhere in the country. President Felipe Calderon has countered that argument by saying recently that the government is “not ceding any space to the criminals.”
April 24, 2010: Cartel gunmen used automatic rifles and grenades to ambush a convoy carrying a senior state security officer. Police said the gunmen also employed a .50 caliber (12.7mm) sniper rifle to shoot at the official’s armored SUV. The attack took place in Michoacan state. Four people were killed and ten wounded in the attack. Heavy .50 caliber sniper rifles are used as anti-vehicle weapons. The .50 caliber bullet has a great deal of stopping power. Originally, the U.S. .50 caliber M2 (“Ma Deuce”) heavy machine gun was designed as an anti-armored vehicle weapon.
April 23, 2010: Seven people were slain when cartel gunmen ambushed two police vehicles in Ciudad Juarez (Chihuahua state). Five of those killed were federal police officers and one was a city policeman. The other person was a civilian. There are around 5,000 federal police deployed in the Juarez region.
April 22, 2010: Approximately 50 cartel gunmen attacked a hotel in Monterrey (Nuevo Leon state) and kidnapped three people. The attack took place around three a.m. The gunmen drove up to the hotel in a convoy of stolen cars.
April 19, 2010: Government officials and diplomats are asking the U.S. to continue to improve cooperation with Mexican security agencies. Intelligence fusion centers with U.S. and Mexican agents and analysts are key to breaking up cartel operations, especially in the border regions. The Mexican government has come a long way from the days it rejected any overt cooperation with the U.S., calling the offer an attempt to undermine Mexican sovereignty. Mexican diplomats repeatedly point out that their government seeks international cooperation. However, the government riles at what it considers unfair criticism regarding corruption. Responding to charges from the U.S. that corruption in Mexico was hindering counter-drug efforts, Mexican officials argued that the U.S. is not doing enough to stem American demand for illegal narcotics.
April 17, 2010: U.S. Border Patrol agents fired at a vehicle that tried to run through a border checkpoint from Tijuana. The driver was later arrested.
April 15, 2010: U.S. and Mexican authorities confirm that cartel gunmen continue to launch attacks continue in the Juarez Valley area (east of Ciudad Juarez). Several hundred Mexican families have fled the area. Local authorities estimate at least 50 people from the area are now seeking asylum in the U.S.. Many family members have reported the drug gangs threaten to kill them if they stay in their homes. The valley is a major smuggling corridor from Mexico into Texas. At the moment most of the violence appears to be committed by the Sinaloa drug cartel. The Sinaloa cartel is fighting the Juarez cartel for control of smuggling routes in and around Juarez. It appears that the Sinaloa cartel is winning that fight. Most of the drug shipments now passing through the Juarez area are controlled by the Sinaloa cartel. The Sinaloa cartel works with two smaller enforcer gangs in the area, the Killer Artists and the Mexicles. Juarez has its own subsidiary enforcers, La Linea and Azteca.
April 9, 2010: U.S. congressional representatives told the Mexican government that they would try to speed up disbursement of Merida initiative funds. The Mexican government wants more helicopters and aircraft to fight the Cartel War.
April 1, 2010: Drug cartel gunmen attacked seven different targets in what authorities described as a coordinated series of assaults. The attacks took place in Tamaulipas and Nuevo Leon states. Two of the attacks targeted Mexican Army garrisons, one in the city of Reynosa. Eighteen of the gunmen were slain by Mexican Army soldiers during those two attacks. A Mexican Army position near a major state highway in Nuevo Leon state was one of the other five sites assaulted. A firefight also occurred between soldiers manning a control point and cartel gunmen along the highway between Reynosa and Monterrey. The gunmen attacked the two garrisons using vehicles with bullet-proof armor, hand grenades, and automatic rifles.