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General Gilberto Landeros Briseño last week expressed displeasure with last month's decision by a judge to release all the field workers who had been tending to a huge marijuana plantation in southern Baja California.
In December, Landeros declined to comment about the release, according to El Universal. The general, who has has commanded the Second Military Zone based in Tijuana since April 2010, on Thursday did address the case to the Madrugadores group, starting off by saying, "The administration of justice is very difficult to talk about in general." After saying, "If I talk about the detention of 58 people involved in the megaplantation," he raised his voice to say, "and all of them were FREED, only one of them is still jailed. Sometimes, then ... there are tendencies in some parties — and we as an institution back no party — to stiffen penalties. I think the first premise is to apply all the penalties that are already on the books."
Last month's story about the prisoners' release.
July story about the raid on the marijuana plantation.
Landeros, when asked about organized crime's attempts to infiltrate the Mexican military, said it was one of the hardest things to guard against. "They buy everybody, or they try to buy everybody, right?" he said. He later said, however, that no one had ever tried to buy him off.
Editorial about the infiltration issue, El Mexicano (PDF).
Landeros said the military detained 1,111 people in the zone last year. He said the number of complaints involved in those operations were 130, or 11 percent. "The more detentions, the more complaints," the general said. He said the military would like to have zero complaints, while also saying many complaints are legal maneuvers by people caught red-handed. He said the military seized 113,757 kilos of marijuana, 1,857 kilos of cocaine, 3,016 kilos of crystal meth and 23 kilos of heroin. Of the weapons seized, 247 were grenades, an increase of 221 over the 26 seized in 2010, which was an increase of 15 over the 11 grenades seized in 2009. No grenades were seized in 2007 and 2008. The military also confiscated nearly $19 million in addition to more than 7.8 million pesos ($590,000). The military shut down 19 clandestine airstrips and confiscated 16 planes. Seven tunnels also were closed. In addition, 152 hectares (376 acres) of marijuana-growing operations were shut down.
Landeros concluded that Baja California, thanks to the cooperation among the federal, state and local governments, has been able to reduce violence and maintain a climate of tranquility and social peace. He said the structure that has been set up of having a state public security council has been a big factor in bringing about the cooperation.
While Landeros did not talk to the Madrugadores group about last week's case in which four employees of Grupo Caliente were detained after they went to pick up exotic birds at the Tijuana airport, he did speak about it at a media conference at which an El Mexicano newspaper journalist was present earlier in the week. The birds had come in on a private flight carrying Grupo Caliente executive and former Tijuana Mayor Jorge Hank Rhon and his wife, María Elvia Amaya de Hank (some say this case knocked María Elvia out of the Institutional Revolutionary Party's nomination for the federal Senate).
Landeros said the four Grupo Caliente employees were detained because military personnel at the airport noticed that "airport authorities permitted the access of two private vehicles to the cargo area of the airport terminal." That was when the 24 birds were found, and, also, apparently, according to El Mexicano, a "Sable gun," which may be a Sabel shotgun. Because there was no documentation for the birds, the men were handed over to federal police, Landeros said at a media conference Wednesday (Jan. 18) announcing a drug bust. Story, El Mexicano (PDF). Jump.
Bills of sale were later produced for the birds.
Story about the case.
It was Landeros' forces who raided Hank's compound in June, after the military found out Hank apparently had unregistered weapons there. Such weapons were found, but the case against Hank was dropped after a judge ruled that the early-morning search was illegal.
The general is one of the Mexican military officials who have studied at the School of the Americas. He has been a special forces commander and Mexico's military attaché to France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Italy and Israel.
He spoke to the Madrugadores (Early Birds) group, which breakfasts in Tijuana on Thursdays.
Update, Feb. 1: Gen. Alfonso Duarte Mújica, commander of the Second Military Region, and Landeros report on the military's activities against organized crime in the state. Story, El Mexicano (PDF). Story, Frontera (PDF).