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Héctor "El Güicho" Guajardo Hernández, captured after a shootout in Mexicali on May 9, escaped from a Mexico City hospital where he was being treated for wounds from that confrontation. He reportedly was a chief operator for Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán, who himself escaped from prison in January 2001, a month after Vicente Fox took office.
This is a huge blow to Mexican efforts to fight organized crime, as authorities had attributed to him dozens of slayings in Baja California, including an attack that killed 13 at a drug rehabilitation center in Tijuana.
He apparently escaped Wednesday, but the story did not come out until Saturday, the same day it was reported that a top lieutenant for the Juárez cartel, José Antonio "Diego" Acosta
Hernández, had been captured.
El Sol de Tijuana says federal agents may be implicated in his escape through a window.
Previous mention of his capture.
Aug. 1 story in Frontera
San Dibble of the San Diego Union-Tribune published a comprehensive story on the Tijuana aerospace industry on Sunday. An aerospace conference was held in Tijuana earlier this month.
The number of people living in poverty in Mexico grew 3 million from 2008 to 2010, bringing the total to 52 million, or 46.2% of the population, a government study says.
President Felipe Calderón's administration said the numbers grew in large part because of the global recession.
In Baja California, the number grew by 218,000, pushing the state's total to 1,017,500, or 32.1% of the population. However, the numbers living in extreme poverty in the state dropped from 3.4% to 3.1%, according to the study by the National Council for the Evaluation of Social Development Policy. The number living in extreme poverty at the national level is 10.1%.
Federal police said Friday that they had captured José Antonio "Diego" Acosta Hernández, who was wanted in the 2010 attacks that killed three people linked to the U.S. Consulate in Ciudad Juárez, the July 2010 car bombing in Juárez that killed three people and the January 2010 massacre of 15 youths in the Villas de Salvárcar section of Juárez. He reportedly was the No. 2 official in La Línea, an enforcement organization for the Juárez cartel. He was captured at a Chihuahua city home.
On Wednesday, two narco banners signed by "Diego" that were placed in Ciudad Juárez and Chihuahua city repeated life-threatening warnings to U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agents and U.S. Consulate employees not to meddle in Chihuahua.
UPDATE, Aug. 1: Authorities attribute 1,500 deaths to Diego.
A tunneling machine and a tunnel hole was found in an otherwise empty Mexicali house about 100 meters from the border with Calexico, authorities told El Mexicano newspaper. U.S. authorities were investigating to try to determine where the tunnel would have ended up, the paper said. No one was arrested.
Richard Marosi's final story in a four-part series on drug trafficking from Sinaloa state was published Friday. All four stories are highly recommended reading. The stories detail how drugs are brought across the border at Calexico (see drug tunnel story above!) and how they are distributed across the United States. Thursday's story was about a Carlsbad pilot who flew drugs from Riverside County to Pennsylvania. The final story was also reported by Tracy Wilkinson.
Five journalists quit Notiver newspaper in Veracruz after two of the paper's journalists were killed since June 20. Previous mention of this week's beheading of journalist.
One gun reported was to have been used in attempt to kill then-Tijuana police chief Julián Leyzaola, now police chief of Ciudad Juarez, story says. Story, Frontera. Teodoro "El Teo" García Simental was captured in January 2010.
Ciudad Juárez police chief Julián Leyzaola said he came under attack Tuesday by elements of federal police. His armored vehicle suffered damage but he emerged unhurt. Leyzaola, a retired military officer, formerly served as Tijuana's police chief. He had been headed for the Juarez prison, where 17 died in a riot. He said federal police he confronted after the incident did not give him a satisfactory answer about why he was attacked. He said he did not think it could have been an innocent mistake.
Meanwhile, Mayor Héctor Murguia said the thousands of federal police in the city will start withdrawing in September. Story, Frontera.
UPDATE, JULY 28: Interior Minister Francisco Blake Mora says federal police will stay in Juárez.
A juvenile court judge in Cuernavaca convicted a 15-year-old born in San Diego County to three years in juvenile detention for his role in four beheadings. The San Diego Union-Tribune said that accounting for time already served, Edgar "N" could be released in late 2013. The sentence was the maximum he could receive. He was captured in December when he was 14.
Story, Frontera. Previous mention of Edgar's case. Story, Los Angeles Times (it says that at one point, Edgar said, "I cut their throats.")
The body of Notiver police reporter Yolanda Ordaz de la Cruz was found beheaded on Tuesday in Veracruz. Prosecutor Reynaldo Escobar blamed the slaying on organized crime but said it did not have to do with her reporting for the newspaper. Notiver columnist Miguel Angel Lopez Velasco and two members of his family were killed at his home in June. Story, Frontera. Mention at bottom of story, Los Angeles Times.
The Aventurera musical, which now has been running for 14 years, has a new protagonist: the model and actress Ninel Conde, who previously appeared in the TV show "Ugly Betty."
Ninel Condo photo from Eddie Brito
Meanwhile, the Cuban actress Niurka Marcos, 43, who claims she was the best Aventurera star there was, has been having words with actress Carmen Salinas, 77, the producer of the show.
The government of Sonora state said 63,000 used tires were collected in San Luis Río Colorado as part of a state program. The tires are to be processed and then burned to produce energy. Officials said that it used to cost 9 pesos (U.S. 78¢) to process each tire, but that the process of using the tires for energy means it does not cost the state anything.
The state said it also had collected 3 million tires in the municipalities of Nogales, Agua Prieta and Naco.
A migrant was reported to be in stable condition in a Mexicali hospital after being rescued from the All-American Canal by a Mexicali diving team.
Students who attend Baja California state high schools will pay 25% less in fees this school year, 50% less in the 2012-13 school year, 75% less the 2013-14 school year and the fees will be eliminated for the 2014-15 school year. The state legislature approved the change earlier this year, to truly give Baja California a free public education. Other entities, such as Mexico state, also are looking into not charging students to attend high school.
Tijuana is planning to build two more high schools to meet demand; in the meantime, students who do not get into public high schools must pay to go to private schools. Registration for the next school year begins Aug. 1 and school starts Aug. 15.
Officials said two men were arrested and 80% of the booty recovered from the July 13 robbery of the Ensenada boutique hotel Casa Natalie. One was an ex-employee.
If President Felipe Calderón's National Action Party thinks the nation's historic distrust of the Institutional Revolutionary Party could save the day in coming elections, the PAN may want to think again. A Mitofsky poll shows only 20.5% of Mexicans have a poor opinion of the PRI, while 29.5% of Mexicans have a poor opinion of the PAN. Doing even worse was the leftist Democratic Revolution Party at 32.9%. The PRI is the only of the three parties to have more people thinking better of it than worse over the past two years. In next year's presidential race, the PRI is favored by 36.4%, the PAN 18.2% and the PRD 14.5%. Most (61.8%) saw the country going in the wrong direction, while 30.7% saw it going in the right direction. Mitosfky poll.
Tijuana Chamber of Commerce leader Karim Chalita Rodríguez said his group and many others are seeking more information about a proposal to build a bridge across the border to link to Tijuana's airport. Many Tijuana business owners oppose the proposal, saying restaurants and transportation companies, among others, could lose business as a result. Among the investors in the project are real estate mogul Sam Zell. The bridge and accompanying building and parking are projected to cost $78 million.
The 145-million peso ($12.4 million) remodel of Tijuana's airport due to be finished in January.
San Diego Union-Tribune December 2010 story on the proposed bridge.
December 2010 San Diego Reader story about lobbying for the proposal.
February Associated Press story on the proposal.
Sept. 2009 U.S. Department of the Interior memo on the proposal.
The federal Attorney General's Office opened an investigation against former Tijuana Mayor Héctor Osuna Jaime, Notimex reported. An association of cable operators had complained that Osuna Jaime, when he headed the Federal Communications Commission, took actions that favored Telmex. Last month, El Mexicano newspaper reported that Osuna Jaime had obtained an injunction against arrest. Osuna Jaime is one of the National Action Party hopefuls for the 2013 Baja California gubernatorial race. He is a former senator and was mayor of Tijuana from 1992-1995.
On Page 1C, the paper accidentally put the story about Osuna under the headline: "To Trial, six detained in the Sicilia case."
Update: Osuna Jaime said he dropped the injunction after he discovered there was no legal threat against him.
Mario López was named last week as executive director of the Economic Development Council of Tijuana (Consejo de Desarrollo Económico de Tijuana, or CDT). The council works to help in Tijuana's strategic planning and in cross-border initiatives. López, 35, has worked for Sempra, SANDAG (San Diego Association of Governments), San Diego Democratic Rep. Rep. Bob Filner and has been an adviser to Tijuana federal Congressman Gastón Luken and to Carlos Torres Torres, a National Action Party politician who lost last year's mayor's race to Carlos Bustamante of the Institutional Revolutionary Party. Born in San Diego, López grew up in Tijuana and graduated from the University of California San Diego in 2000. He recently founded a consulting company, The Border Group.
It also was announced Sunday that López would be one of 20 members of the new Community Editorial Board of the San Diego Union-Tribune. A list and bios of the members. Editor's letter announcing the board. It appeared that López was one of five members with Hispanic backgrounds.
Frontera and El Mexicano said his main duties at the CDT will be to work on stategic planning for Tijuana with the city and businesses, work with convention planners and the Marca Ciudad city branding project and on cross-border issues.
He succeeds Arturo Covarrubias Hernández, who Frontera said only lasted six months in the job. The CDT is headed by Executive President Miguel Padilla. The CDT was formed in 1997 as a private institution to work together with the state government, the city government and the private sector. One of its members is José Galicot, the force behind last year's Tijuana Innovadora conference.
Earlier this year, the CDT was inmersed in scandal because a program it began in 2008 designed to aid medical tourism to Tijuana by providing passes to cross the border more quickly wound up being abused. The abuse was detected in a surprise inspection by city investigative official Yolanda Enríquez de la Fuente, who now is under investigation herself by the state legislature for not acting more swiftly against policemen who had a woman do a strip tease in their police station.
National Action Party official Juan Molinar Horcasitas, on a visit to Tijuana, noted that legal action against former Mayor Jorge Hank Rhon is not over yet. He also said that states with governors from the Institutional Revolutionary Party are suffering more violence. Story, Frontera.
A hearing for the 15-year-old boy originally from San Diego County charged with being an assassin for the Beltrán Lyeva cartel concluded in Cuernavaca on Saturday, according to an El Universal story in Frontera. Edgar "N" was captured in December 2010. The story said the judge could rule on his case Tuesday or Wednesday.
A San Diego Union-Tribune series on the boy says he was born May 6, 1996, "in an orange Volkswagen Rabbit during a dash for the hospital" to a common-law couple from Tejalpa, Mexico who had become crack cocaine users. The infant was placed in foster care because traces of cocaine were found in his blood, and the story says his mother never saw him again. Part 2 has his paternal grandmother taking him and other siblings to her home in Tejalpa, near Cuernavaca, where Edgar was expelled from school time and again. The grandmother died at age 78 in 2004, which ended U.S. financial support for the children. The story also goes into detail on the history of Cuernavaca's drug trade, and has drug trafficker Amado Carrillo Fuentes dying in a plastic-surgery operation in 1998 (he actually died in 1997). Part 3 has Edgar joining a drug gang.
UPDATE, JULY 26: Story in El Mexicano says testimony ended Monday.
A man was shot and killed Friday while attending the 15th birthday celebration of his daughter at the Divino Maestro y Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe church in the Otay Universidad neighborhood. Frontera newspaper reported that Arredondo was from Sinaloa and sold cars. Another man was reported wounded; El Mexicano reported that the wounded man was a photographer. El Mexicano reported that the man who was killed lived in California. Story, Frontera. Frontera said the slain man was Jaime Arredondo, while El Mexicano said his name was Jaime Estrada.
El Mexicano reported that journalist Arnoldo García, 65, was run over and killed after his parked car was stuck by a man driving a Dodge Ram in the Popotla area of Rosarito. The paper said García and two other men were at a restaurant near where "Titanic" was filmed when his car was struck, and that García ran out and demanded compensation for the damage to his Chevrolet Monte Carlo. The paper said the man reportedly paid García no mind, and that García then began taking photos. At that point, the man, who was accompanied by two or three other men, ran over García, killing him, and drove off. The Ram was later found abandoned in Rosarito. El Mexicano said the slain man reported for the magazine "Universo Noticioso."
A Baja California official said Friday that federal and state tests have shown beef in Baja California is free of clenbuterol. Five Mexican soccer players were suspended from playing in last month's regional Gold Cup tournament because clenbuterol was found in their systems. The head of the international soccer organization, FIFA, later reinstated the players, saying they had eaten meat adulterated with clenbuterol. Other national teams have warned their players about eating meat in Mexico. Athletes, and livestock farmers in Mexico, China and other places, illegally use clenbuterol because it builds muscle.
A monument to Christopher Columbus and the 500th anniversary of the encounter of two worlds was removed Thursday from the Tijuana Cultural Center. Officials told Frontera newspaper that weather had made the 10-ton monument unstable. They said it would be repaired and likely placed in another location.
The monument, designed by Guillermo Castaño, was a 1992 gift from the Círculo Italiano de las Californias motivated by the 500th anniversity of Columbus' voyage to the New World ("In 1492 Columbus Sailed the Ocean Blue.")
The Italian community of Tijuana expressed its displeasure with the turn of events.
UPDATE, Aug. 4: Tijuana Cultural Center Director Virgilio Muñoz says the monument is too heavy for the cultural center esplanade and says it may be relocated to a median on Paseo de los Heroes. Story, El Mexicano.
Ignacio "Don Nacho" Fimbres Moreno, a member of the family that founded of the Calimax regional grocery chain and other businesses, died Wednesday in Tijuana at age 89. A Sonora native, he was born Dec. 26, 1921. He was known for his philanthropy.
His brother, José Fimbres Moreno, died in 2008 at age 77. In 2009, a new graduate school building at Cetys University was named for José Fimbres, with one hall of classrooms named for Ignacio Fimbres and another for Ignacio's wife, María Teresa Sánchez de Fimbres.
Ignacio and his wife had four children: Ignacio Rafael, Beatriz, María Teresa and Maritza. Ignacio Fimbres Sánchez is the president of the board of Calimax.
Ignacio Fimbres Moreno was the third of seven children of Baraquiel Fimbres, who with his family transformed the Tijuana butcher shop Mercado Zona Libre at Fifth Street and Niños Héroes into what would become Calimax, that name being a shortening of Calidad Maxima, or Maximum Quality. The Calimax website says its first supermarket opened in 1939, and that Calimax has 70 supermarkets, two warehouse stores, and established 13 Smart & Final stores in Mexico. Stories said Ignacio Fimbres entered the family business in 1938.
Tijuana newspapers were full of ads from officials, businesses, friends, family and others expressing their sorrow over Fimbres Moreno's death.
The federal Attorney General's Office, appealing a federal judges decision not to bind over former Tijuana Mayor Jorge Hank Rhon in an arms-stockpiling case, presented arguments in a hearing this week. Hank was detained June 4 but ordered released on June 14 by federal judge Blanca Parra. Parra said the military had not met the requirement of stopping a crime in the act of its being commissioned, which was necessary to raid a place without having a search warrant. Story, Frontera (from Wednesday).
Baja California state police said they seized a crystal meth lab in Tijuana after detaining two men whose vehicle contained bags of the drug. Authorities said Víctor (or Héctor) Armando
Rodríguez Aguilar, 27, and his cousin Juan Salvador
Aguilar, 39, were detained in Playas de Tijuana in a pickup after they reportedly acted suspiciously; the crystal meth lab was later found in La Gloria neighborhood of the San Antonio de los Buenos section of Tijuana. Officials said the pair was originally from Guadalajara. Authorities placed the value of the more than 30 kilos of the drug seized at 15.5 million pesos, or $1.3 million, and said the value would triple once the drug crossed the border. Authorities said the drugs belonged to a man identified only as "El Nacho" and suspected that Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán's organization was behind the lab.
Story, Frontera. Follow-up story, Frontera, calling first man Héctor Armando Rodríguez Aguilar.
Labor Minister Javier Lozano announced Wednesday that he was dropping out of contention for the National Action Party nomination for next year's presidential race because of his low standing in the polls. Story, Frontera.
It appears to be a bad month for Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán in Baja California. Authorities said a pickup truck and another vehicle near the Otay Mesa border crossing were found to contain nearly 17 kilos of cocaine, whose street value was placed at almost 17 million pesos, or $1.45 million. Authorities said the men in the vehicles said they were working for Guzmán; a huge marijuana plantation that was discovered last week also was attributed to him. Arrested were Daniel Antonio Payán Moreno, 30, who authorities said offered state police $10,000 to let him go, and Nader Mantecón, 21. Officials said the 2006 model pickup was stopped around the intersection of López Portillo street and Bellas Artes boulevard because it was driving without lights, and used information gained after discovering the drugs to pick up Mantecon, who authorities said was in a 1992 model vehicle that was in line to cross the border, about 500 meters away from U.S. inspection booths. Frontera and El Mexicano reported that Mantecón is originally from the United States.
Four police were suspended for allegedly using torture against a suspect in Playas de Tijuana, authorities said Monday. As in a previous case involving a stripper who performed in a police station in eastern Tijuana, a video was involved. This one shows masked men placing a bag over the head of the victim to restrict his breathing and also using electricty to shock his genitals. Those suspended were Playas section police chief Rafael Domínguez Vázquez and Isidro Jonathan Ortiz Oropeza, Amaury Jairzhino Agraz Ramírez and Pedro Díaz Rodríguez. The city office responsible for investigating such cases said it received the video June 24 and then did an investigation. The suspect tortured in the video was detained around 3 a.m. May 19 after a report that he used a gun to threaten a couple with a gun. El Mexicano said two men were detained in the case, both allegedly in possession of guns that are only supposed to be in possession of the Mexican military. The paper said both were taken to the police station in Playas de Tijuana, where one of them was tortured.. The man who was allegedly tortured was interviewed by city authorities in the La Mesa prison and has since been released on bail.
In the stripper case, the Tijuana official responsible for investigating police abuse, Yolanda Enríquez de la Torre, is being investigated by the state legislature for not taking action against the police involved until after the video was leaked to the media. She did not make the announcement on the Playas de Tijuana torture case; that fell to her assistant, Jesús Chávez Hoyos.
A state policeman who had been suspended from his job doing stolen-vehicle investigations for the public prosecutor's office was found riding in a car stolen in National City, Frontera newspaper reported. Rubén Sánchez Rosas, 40, was riding in a Subaru stopped for speeding on the Via Rapida Oriente over the weekend. The driver was identifed as José Abraham García Valenzuela, 30. The 2010 model car was reported stolen in National City on April 5, 2010. Authorities told the paper Sánchez Rosas had been suspended in March on bribery charges. Stories, Frontera.
Both the Frontera and El Mexicano newspapers placed on their front pages the discovery of a huge marijuana plantation on Pine Mountain in Los Padres National Forest north of Ojai in Ventura County, noting that it was bigger than the one found last week in the southernmost area of Baja California. Story from Yubanet.com. Both Tijuana papers also reported that the last of the marijuana found in Baja California had been burned. Pictures of marijuana being burned. Story, Frontera. Front page, Frontera. El Mexicano put the street value of the Los Padres National Forest pot at $205 million and the Baja California marijuana at $150 million. Columnist Sergio Sarmiento wrote that the destruction of the Baja California pot only means that there will be a greater market for the marijuana produced in California. Many now claim California produces more marijuana than Mexico; a Rand study last year, however, took issue with this conclusion.
The U.S. opened a new $120 million consulate in Tijuana after spending 47 years near the Caliente racetrack. Sandra Dibble of the Union-Tribune has a good story about the opening, noting that the consulate has a staff of 50 Americans and 100 Mexicans with more than 100,000 square feet of space in its main building. The new consulate, one of nine U.S. consulates in Mexico, is relatively close to the Otay Mesa border crossing. The story said, "At any given moment 250 U.S. citizens are behind bars" and an average of one person dies a day in the district the consulate represents. The story said most of the 66 non-natural deaths of U.S. citizens in the district last year were homicides.
Jaime Flores, who writes the Cicuta (Hemlock) column that appears in El Mexicano, likened the race for the Institutional Revolutionary Party 2013 Baja California gubernatorial nomination as one between a Devil Lamborghini driven by Sen. Fernando Castro Trenti and a slower-moving Rolls Royce driven by former Tijuana Mayor and gambling magnate Jorge Hank Rhon. Castro Trenti is often called "el diablo" (the devil) in Tijuana and Hank is known for his love of luxury. The column. There also are likely to be other PRI contenders, such as Sen. Jaime Rafael Díaz Ochoa, also a former Mexicali mayor. Even embattled Ensenada Mayor Enrique Pelayo Torres was quoted as saying in El Sol de Tijuana that he could be a contender.
An IMERK poll says Baja California residents may be feeling safer these days. Those feeling the most secure are residents of Ensenada, with 85.8% saying they feel safe in their homes. Those feeling the least safe in their homes are residents of Tecate, with 58.3% saying they feel safe.
The figure for Tijuana was 82.5%, Rosarito 75.8% and Mexicali 62.5%. The overall state figure was 73%. <<<rest of story>>>
Columnist Sergio Sarmiento writes that Friday's exoneration of former Cancún Mayor Gregorio Sánchez on organized crime charges "is the umpteenth politician arrested by the federal Attorney General's Office to be freed by judges." Sarmiento writes that while a witness alleged that Sánchez attended a Jan. 5, 2009 meeting in Acapulco with major drug traffickers including the Beltrán Leyva, el Mayo Zamabada, Nacho Coronel, El Lazca, El Chayo, El Chango Méndez, la Tuta, la Barbie and others, Sánchez was in Cancun attending public events that day. Sarmiento said it was improbable that the traffickers, who have been fighting among themselves, would have held such a meeting.
Sarmiento said the case followed some of the same pattern as the recent case involving former Tijuana Mayor Jorge Hank Rhon. When a federal judge did not find probable cause in June to continue to detain Jorge Hank Rhon on arms charges, state authorities tried to hold Hank in a separate state murder case. Sarmiento said that while a Baja California state judge then freed Hank in the second case, the federal Attorney General's Office in the Sánchez case was able to find a judge to continue to hold Sánchez. Sánchez, who was being held in Nayarit, was transferred to Mexico City to face a new accusation of money laundering.
Sarmiento indicated that Mexican authorities need to build better cases, perhaps especially if the charges can be seen as political ones. Hank is a member of the Institutional Revolutionary Party; Sánchez is a member of the leftist Democratic Revolution Party and was running for governor of Quintana Roo state when he was arrested last year; President Felipe Calderón is a member of the National Action Party.
The United States did not renew Ensenada Mayor Enrique Pelayo's visa earlier this year, the mayor told the media Friday. Pelayo (right), whose police force tried to shut down Sempra's Costa Azul natural gas import terminal in Ensenada this year, told El Mexicano and Frontera newspapers that Steve Kashkett, (below right) the U.S. consul in Tijuana, told him the denial had to do with the Sempra case. The Tijuana newspaper Frontera and the San Diego Union-Tribune quoted U.S. officials as saying that they do not comment on why visas are denied or even if they are denied.
Frontera reported that Pelayo and other family members submitted applications to renew their visas in March, and that everyone else's but his were renewed.
The Ensenada police's attempt to take over the terminal was prevented by state and federal authorities. Pelayo indicated that he was told by the consulate that he had been trying to extort Sempra. Pelayo said that was not the case, and that he was concerned about alleged irregularities in the approval of the plant and safety issues.
Rosarito Mayor Javier Robles met with state legislature president Carlos Murguía and asked him to help resolve the boundary dispute between Rosarito and Ensenada. Robles said he had a friendly relationship with fellow Institutional Revolutionary Party Mayor Enrique Pelayo of Ensenada, even though Ensenada police pointed their guns at him when he visited an area in dispute in April. Robles also said negotiations were going nowhere. Rosarito was carved out of Tijuana 16 years ago. Murguía, of Tijuana, also is from the PRI.
Previous mention of Rosarito-Ensenada boundary dispute.
Authorities burned marijuana found at a huge marijuana plantation in San Quintin south of Ensenada that had been covered with shade material. Officials said the plantation was a project of trafficker Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán, who escaped from prison in 2001, shortly after President Vicente Fox took office.
Story, Frontera. Pictures, Frontera.
Gov. José Guadalupe Osuna Millán inaugurated Tijuana's World Trade Center building on Thursday. The eight-story building is still looking to sign contracts with tenants; it has 200,000 square feet of office space. Tijuana World Trade Center CEO Gregorio Goldstein told the San Diego Union-Tribune that a Tijuana company owns the franchise and building, but that he "would not reveal the size of the investment or name that financial backer."
Story, Frontera. Story, El Mexicano. Story, San Diego Union-Tribune.
Gen. Alfonso Duarte Mújica said Wednesday that the Mexican military found a 120-hectare plantation of marijuana plants in San Quintin, El Mexicano reported. It said that more than 60 people working at the plantation escaped. The military said it later detained 16 persons on an ABC bus headed for Ensenada. Six admitted working on the plantation, authorities told the paper. The 16 apparently were from Sinaloa state. The military put a value of 1.86 billion pesos, or $158 million. It was a little more than a mile off the transpeninsular highway, around kilometer 141 on the Guerrero Negro-San Quintin section of highway.
Story, San Diego Union-Tribune.
Story, with photos, Frontera.
El Mexicano reports that the Casa Natalie boutique hotel in Ensenada was robbed of a vast sum of money early Wednesday. The paper said robbers broke open two safes containing $800,000, took jewelry valued at $80,000 and expensive bottles of wine, plasma TVs, computers and other items that took the haul over $1 million. Story, El Mexicano. jump page. Story, Frontera.
The Baja California state legislature voted unanimously on Wednesday to have an investigative commission investigate a Tijuana official for alleged neglect of duty in a case where Tijuana police officers had a suspect strip in a police station, apparently to avoid being turned in to judicial authorities in a credit-card theft case. The woman later said she also performed oral sex on police officers. No action was taken against the police until a video of the incident was released more than a month after the strip show and well after the official in question was informed about the case.
Yolanda Enríquez de la Fuente, (right) the síndico procurador for the city of Tijuana, said she will defend herself, Tijuana newspapers reported. The síndico procurador position does not have an equivalent in the United States, but performs auditing and investigative duties and can, when cause is found, prohibit people from holding public office for certain periods of time. The investigative commission could strip her from her post and also prohibit her from holding other public office.
Some see the case as political, and the case against her is called a juicio político, akin to impeachment. It was brought by a National Action Party councilman, Erwin Areizaga Uribe. However, Enríquez's Institutional Revolutionary Party and its coalition partner hold a majority in the state legislature. Enríquez previously served in the 2004-07 administration of Mayor Jorge Hank Rhon, who is allied with current Mayor Carlos Bustamante. Some see the hand of Sen. Fernando Castro Trenti, a likely opponent of Hank Rhon for the PRI's nomination in the 2013 state gubernatorial race, in the case.
UPDATE, July 22: Enríquez said she will hire private lawyers to defend her.
The body of longtime Cetys university marketing professor Héctor Velarde Griego was found Saturday strangled in a home in the Sevilla neighborhood in the eastern part of Mexicali, where his 2005 Nissan Altima was also found, authorities told the Mexicali newspaper La Crónica. The paper said his body then was set on fire. The newspaper El Sol de la Frontera described the killing as a crime of passion allegedly committed by a same-sex partner. It said his body was found around 3 a.m. when firefighters responded to a report of smoke coming from the home.
The Tijuana newspaper Frontera said Velarde was invited by Cetys Rector Alfonso Marín to help found the private school's campus in Tijuana in 1972, and served as director general from 1972-1979. Velarde, 64, originally was from Sonora, and got his undergraduate degree in business administration from the Cetys Mexicali campus in 1970.
He was also musical director of the Por Amor al Arte cultural organization in Mexicali.
UPDATE: Follow-up story, Frontera, Friday, July 15.
Eight bodies were found in the desert in Sonora state near the Arizona border in a rural area of Sonoita municipality, Frontera reported. They were found by cowboys from nearby Caborca who were going through the area. Officials said the bodies could have been there for several months up to a year. The bodies were found about half a mile from the U.S. border and were spread out over six miles. It appeared the victims died from dehydration. Identification found in the area indicated that two of those who died were from Chiapas, one was from Oaxaca and one from Ensenada.
El Mexicano's Basilio Olivas has a good story about Argentine musician Facundo Cabral, who was slain in Guatemala over the weekend after a performance. Authorities believe that the concert producer who was escorting Cabral to the airport was the target; the producer, Henry Aquiles Fariñas, was injured. The Mexican newspaper Reforma reported that the Drug Enforcement Administration suspects Fariñas of laundering money for the Sinaloa Cartel. Story, AP.
Cabral, who was 74, appeared in Tijuana in October.
Mexico's Agriculture, Ranching, Rural Development, Fisheries and Food Supply Ministry (SAGARPA) said three programs it put in place to aid farmers affected by the Easter 2010 earthquake have made their last payouts. Sagarpa said one program helped 377 wheat producers on 658 properties in the Mexicali and San Luis Rio Colorado area with 58.7 million pesos ($5 million); that a second program helped 268 wheat, alfalfa and cotton producers on 490 properties with 79.6 million pesos ($6.8 million); Sagarpa said a third program to help farmers regain productive use of their land helped 1,159 producers on 3,416 properties with 153.2 million
pesos ($13 million).
The earthquake badly damaged irrigation systems and also caused liquefaction that did major damage to the grading of land; the grading must be just so in order for irrigation to work effectively.
Previous MexicoPerspective story on earthquake.
Sunday's Tijuana marathon suffered a major problem Sunday when runners followed the media car when it took a turn at the Lincoln monument instead of continuing to follow the guide car, cutting 800 meters off the route and causing the race to lose its official status. See sports.
Bass guitarist Juan José Moreno Torres lost his life in a one-car accident in Baja Mar on the Tijuana-Ensenada scenic road around 7:20 a.m. Friday, El Mexicano reported. The five-member band he played with was to perform Friday night and 4th and B in San Diego. The paper said he sometimes played his guitar as if it were a machine gun. Musician José María Novoa also was traveling in the Grand Cherokee that crashed, but survived.
UPDATE, July 11: Moreno Torres is buried in the San Ramón cemetery in Ensenada with around 500 in attendance, Frontera reports. The paper says his family lives in the United States. It said the funeral cortege heard sad songs and as well as music from Explosión Norteña.
At least 21 people died Friday night when a Monterrey bar said to be frequented by members of the Zetas organized-crime gang was attacked by more than 15 men armed with assault rifles. Police told El Universal that they assumed the attackers were members of the Gulf Cartel. The gunmen hunted down their victims in bathrooms and in the bar's offices, the paper said.
Update, July 10: Authorities later said they believed employees of the bar were specifically targeted, rather than Zetas, because drugs were being sold there. Eighteen of those killed were bar employees, officials said.
On Thursday night, five people were reported killed, including three waitresses and a man in a wheelchair, when a group of armed men entered Los Potreros in the south of Chihuahua city, the capital of Chihuahua state. Story, Frontera. In Valle de Chalco in Mexico state, 11 people, including a woman, were executed behind a pumping station. A 17-year-old survived, authorities said. Story, El Universal. Ten decapitated bodies of seven men and three women were found around 6 a.m. Saturday in the back of a vehicle along Torreón's ring road; their heads were found in various points in the city.
UPDATE: Authorities said that in the Chalco massacre, four of the 11 dead were involved in drug sales, but that the others were not and happened to be in the wrong place (a bar) at the wrong time. The slayings were attributed to a territorial dispute between the Knights Templar faction of the Familia Michoana and another faction of the trafficking organization.
Officials also said Friday that it appeared that the Knights Templar targeted civilians during its battle Thursday with federal police in Apatzingán, Michoacan. Seven gang members were killed and one wounded; no civilians were reported hurt. Police said José de Jesús "El Chango" Méndez Vargas, who was captured June 22, said in a videotaped statement that he broke with Servando "La Tuta" Gómez “La Tuta” and Enrique “Kike” Plancarte, who now run the Knights Templar. "When they began to kidnap, kill and extort people, that is when the problems began in the Familia Michoacana, because "El Tuta's" people were not respecting their agreements ... and for that reason I began to separate myself from the group. You don't do that kind of crap." Story, Los Angeles Times. Story, El Universal.
New consulate to open on July 18. Previous mention.
José Manuel "El Ceviche" Alarcón Jacobo, 36, was captured and presented to the media in Tijuana. He was said to have worked for the notorious Teodoro "El Teo" García Simental and to be linked to 22 murders. Story, Frontera. Simental was captured in 2010.
Four were convicted Thursday in the January 2010 slayings of teens and others partying at a house in Ciudad Juarez. The Los Angeles Times reported that most of those partying were promising young students and athletes, but that those convicted said they were ordered to kill everyone in the home because it had been reported that members of a rival gang were at the party. Story, Los Angeles Times.
Sixteen of the Americans who were shipwrecked in the Gulf of California on July 4 were transported back to the United States in a convoy headed by Baja California Tourism Minister Juan Tintos Funcke. Story, Frontera. Three members of the Wong family stayed in San Felipe; one of their family members is among seven missing from the sinking of the charter ship Erik caused by a sudden squall around 2:30 a.m. on July 4. One body has been found. Wednesday's Frontera stories, with photos of victims and those rescued: Front page; Page 32; Page 33
A Mexican was executed Thursday in Texas for the 1994 murder and rape of a 16-year-old Adria Sauceda of San Antonio over the protest of the Mexican government and the Obama administration that the execution violated U.S. treaty obligations. Story, Frontera. The last words of Humbert Leal, 38, were "Viva Mexico." He earlier apologized for his actions. The Huntsville Item reported that he said, “I know Christ has forgiven me, and I accept his forgiveness. I am sorry for the victim’s family for what I did. May they forgive me. Let’s get this show on the road, Warden.” Relatives of his who gathered in Guadalupe, Mexico, burned a T-shirt with the image of a Mexican flag on it. Leal had moved to Texas with his family from Monterrey when he was a boy, and he was in the country illegally. Sauceda's mother supported the execution.
The protest came as polls show more Mexicans supporting the death penalty.
The U.S. Supreme Court rejected 5-4 an appeal from the Mexican government and the Obama administration to stay the execution so that the U.S. Congress could consider a law that would allow the revision of cases of foreigners sentenced to death who did not receive consular aid. Texas officials did not inform Leal of his rights to receive counsel from a Mexican consulate or the Mexican Embassy. Story, Huntsville Item.
Sergio Sarmiento in his column Friday gives voice to the victim's mother and points out that France says that Florence Cassez did not receive French consular aid when she was arrested in a kidnapping case that has become a cause celebre in France. He said this has not led to her release or transfer to France to complete her sentence.
While Institutional Revolutionary Party gubernatorial candidate Eruviel Ávila (left) may have grossly overspent to win votes in Sunday's Mexico state election, that is clearly not the main reason he won in such an overwhelming landslide. One major reason why he won is that he is an attractive candidate. This can be seen in the interview he gave to Voz y Voto magazine before the election. <<<rest of story>>>
More than 17 years after the North American Free Trade Agreement went into effect, the U.S. and Mexico signed an agreement Wednesday to allow Mexican trucks to make deliveries across the United States if they have electronic monitoring systems to track compliance with U.S. trucking laws. Mexico is to lift retaliatory tariffs it imposed in 2009.
Story, San Diego Union-Tribune.
Reforma's story, in Frontera.
Story, New York Times.
President Felipe Calderón kicked off a campaign in Cuernavaca on Tuesday to replace 22.9 million incandescent light bulbs for fluorescent ones.
"A fifth of the electricity consumed in homes goes for lighting, and families lose money (by burning incandescent bulbs) and the government loses money because it subsidizes electrical use," Calderón said.
Families are to be given four fluorescent bulbs in exchange for incandescent bulbs under the Sustainable Light Program. Residents must take the incandescent bulbs, their light bill and identification to stores such as Soriana and Coppel for the exchange to take place.
The Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) won governors' races Sunday in three states: Mexico, Coahuila and Nayarit. Eruviel Avila's win in Mexico state was overwhelming, making it appear that current Gov. Enrique Peña Nieto will have an easy route to winning the presidency next year.
Results, Frontera. Story, Los Angeles Times.
Xochitl Gálvez tweets that in Hidalgo state, the PRI lost 50% of the municipalities, adding, "Congratulations to all those who accomplished this despite the threats, (vote) buying and intimidation." Gálvez, a businesswoman, headed the commission for development of indigenous communities under President the 2000-2006 administration of President Vicente Fox of the National Action Party.
The widow of a 1970s guerrilla leader and her sister were slain in Guerrero state, the newspaper Reforma reported. Isabel Anaya Nava, 54, and her sister Reyna, 58, were shot and killed as they left church in the Xaltianguis community of Acapulco around 1 p.m. Sunday. Isabel Anaya Nava was the widow of guerrilla leader Lucio Cabañas, who was killed by the military on Dec. 2, 1974. He earlier had kidnapped Sen. Rubén Figueroa, who was a candidate for governor; the military later freed Figueroa, who served as governor from 1975-1981. Figueroa's son became governor in 1993, but left office early after the Aguas Blancas massacre of peasants.
The paper quoted officials as saying the sisters had gone to the church to sell food items and were shot by men firing from a blue car. Before taking off, the killers took the women's cellphones, authorities said.
Cabañas, a rural teacher, was a founder of the Party of the Poor.
Nicolás Chávez, head of the Popular Assembly of the Pueblos of Guerrero, urged a major investigation into the case to see whether the deaths had anything to do with Isabel Anaya Nava's daughter Micaela Cabañas, who he said was an activist and government critic. He also said Isabel Anaya Nava also had a brother who was killed, and that she was seeking justice in that case.
The city councils of Tijuana and Tecate both met in their respective city halls at 6 p.m. Friday to direct their cities' mayors to finalize an agreement on dividing disputed territory between them. Story, Frontera. Tijuana will get the Valle de las Palmas development, and the 127 square miles of territory in dispute would be divided equally between the cities.
Frontera said Tijuana also would get the Autonomous University of Baja California facilities in the area and half of the El Carrizo dam reservoir, while Tecate would get the agricultural area of Valle de las Palmas, the Cuchumá mountain, the Ejido Carmen Serdán and half the reservoir.
Tijuana Mayor Carlos Bustamante lauded his urban development minister, David Navarro, for negotiating the agreement.
Officials said Thursday that Tijuana and Tecate's city councils would receive an agreement Friday to resolve their boundary dispute. It was predicted that the 127 square miles or so in dispute would be divided equally, with the Valle de las Palmas development staying in the hands of Tijuana and El Carrizo dam reservoir divided in equal parts. Tijuana Mayor Carlos Bustamante and Tecate Mayor Javier Urbalejo Cinco were to meet in the disputed area on Saturday to sign a "friendly agreement."
The seventh TJ Beer Fest (Festival de la Cerveza Artesana) will be held on Avenida Revolución between Sixth and Eighth streets in Tijuana on Friday, July 15, and Saturday, July 16, from noon to 2 a.m. The 100-peso entrance fee ($8.60) will include a commemorative glass, three beer samplings and entry to the concert of the day. On Saturday, Nortec will give a concert launching its new CD, "Border Revolver." Rocker Javier Batiz will play on Friday.
Frontera reported that the new U.S. Consulate in Tijuana, whose construction began in 2008, will open the third week of July in Otay Mesa. Meanwhile, the consulate's website says: "Consulate General Tijuana is moving! As of July 11, 2011, all nonimmigrant visa interviews will be held at our new facility." Story, Frontera.
Map showing the new location. It is northeast of the bus station, not too far from the Otay Mesa crossing.