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Cable reference id: #09MONTERREY386
“All of them, those in power, and those who want the power, would pamper us, if we agreed to overlook their crookedness by wilfully restricting our activities.” — “Refus Global“, Paul-Émile Borduas

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Hide header UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 MONTERREY 000386 SENSITIVE SIPDIS E.O. 12958: N/A TAGS: ASEC [Security], SNAR [Narcotics], KCRM [Criminal Activity], PHUM [Human Rights], PGOV [Internal Governmental Affairs], MX [Mexico] SUBJECT: VIOLENCE SPIKES AS NEW ADMINISTRATION TAKES THE REINS REF: A) MONTERREY 250 B) MONTERREY 379 MONTERREY 00000386 001.2 OF 002 ¶1. (SBU) Within two weeks of taking office, Nuevo Leon Governor Rodrigo Medina and his security team face a dramatic increase in violence. While such violence is hardly new to the state, its capital Monterrey has in the last week experienced three dramatic gun battles in public spaces, two of them sowing panic as citizens ducked for cover in an attempt to escape the crossfire. Heightened tensions between security forces and increasing brazenness on the part organized crime may indicate a desire to test the resolve of the new administration in making good on its campaign promise to cleanse public security forces of corruption and take the fight to organized crime. Gunmen Attempt to Rescue Accomplices at Rush Hour on Major Highway --------------------------------------------- -------------- ------- ¶2. (SBU) On October 8 at approximately 3:00 p.m., municipal police pulled over a driver for drinking alcoholic beverages while operating his vehicle. What started as a routine traffic stop apparently turned violent as police discovered firearms and determined that the vehicle was stolen. Juan Jose Vazquez Marin, AKA "El Orejon," or "El Guero," attempted to assault officers, who took him and his four companions, Jose Enrique Perez Guerrero, Angel Mario Valdez Navarro, Juan Antonio Aguirre Garcia, and Candalario Mendoza Rodriguez, into custody. Shortly after delivering these individuals to the custody of federal police in Linares, a municipality approximately 80 miles southeast of Monterrey, those agents started receiving phone calls demanding the release of the detainees: they elected to transfer the suspects immediately to their regional headquarters in downtown Monterrey. ¶3. (SBU) Driving northbound on the Avenida Eugenio Garza Sada as it passed by the neighborhood Contry la Silla, federal police spotted an approaching convoy of four vehicles led by a Hummer, and immediately called for reinforcements. The convoy intercepted the federal police at approximately 4:50 p.m., and both sides exchanged gunfire amid rush hour traffic for approximately 10 minutes before reinforcements arrived and the gunmen fled the scene, abandoning three vehicles and carjacking another to escape. The fight took place among congested traffic, which locked up almost immediately as drivers attempted to take cover and avoid the crossfire. Surprisingly, this firefight lead to only minor injuries among bystanders. Vazquez and his companions were ultimately transferred to the regional headquarters, under heavy military escort, then later to military custody, and now await proceedings in the maximum security prison at Cadereyta, 15 miles east of Monterrey. (Comment: Reports conflict as to the role Vazquez and his men play in local criminal organizations. Some indicate that he is a member of the Zetas, taking over for Saul Bonifacio Martinez Hernandez, AKA "El Tiburon," killed in an engagement with the army on September 4 at Presa la Boca. Others identify him as simply a member of the Gulf Cartel. End comment.) Residents Call for Help as Gun Battle Rages Outside --------------------------------------------- ------ ¶4. (SBU) According to eyewitness accounts, on October 12, around 6:20 p.m., eight men in three vehicles pursued another two to four individuals - all armed - back to a residence in the metropolitan Monterrey neighborhood of Indeco Naranjo, where they engaged in an extended gunfight for approximately 30 minutes before fleeing, leaving behind shells matching the calibers of AR-15 rifles and hand guns. Neighbors testify that they took cover and made repeated calls to the local police station, located only a few blocks from the incident. However, police did not respond to those calls, arriving only after the army was already at the scene. According to government sources, one unidentified individual was apprehended at the scene. (Comment. A similar event occurred in the Monterrey neighborhood of Cumbres Oro in Monterrey on Aug 13, when a gunfight between approximately 15 assailants and presumed members of the Arturo Beltran Leyva organization raged for approximately one hour, with no police response. End comment.) Soldiers and State, Municipal Police Exchange Gunfire --------------------------------------------- --------- ¶5. (SBU) According to media reports, on the night of October 12, the army received an anonymous phone call alerting it to an exchange of cash filled briefcases between elements of organized crime and police units in the neighborhood of Santa Martha in Escobedo, a municipality of metropolitan Monterrey. The army deployed to the location in Santa Martha shortly after midnight MONTERREY 00000386 002.2 OF 002 on the morning of October 13, where soldiers confronted state and municipal police units. ¶6. (SBU) Further details of this confrontation are unclear. One source claims that a conflict ensued, with soldiers striking four to five police officers, and somebody discharged a firearm. According to this account, as soldiers attempted to leave the area, they were met by a second group of approximately 70 state and municipal police officers and an exchange of gunfire ensued in which only one police officer was injured. (Note: Pablo Tomargo, Director of the state's Center of Computing, Communication, Coordination and Control (C5) told the media that a confirmed source called the C5 to alert it to the initial conflict between soldiers and police, resulting in a second large deployment of state security forces. End note.) Another source presents a slightly different story, suggesting that four soldiers attempted to search a group of state police they met in a gas station, who resisted the soldiers, and, joined by more police, actually surrounded them and threatened them with arms. According to this source, the situation was defused and the soldiers released on the condition that the Seventh Military Zone would identify the soldiers, and in case of legal proceedings, would submit them to military justice. This version of events concludes with state and municipal police voicing invectives against state Secretary of Public Security Carlos Juaregui, whose agency oversees state police operations. Comment: -------- ¶7. (SBU) Post acknowledges that neither version of this conflict seems credible. More significantly, officials have done little to clarify the details of the confrontation, instead making efforts to minimize the event. In a public meeting between state Secretary of Government Javier Trevino, Secretary of Public Security Carlos Juaregui, Attorney General Alejandro Garza, and Seventh Military Zone army commanders of the, officials dismissed the confrontation as an "argument between cousins." Secretary Trevino was careful to emphasize that the event "did not represent a conflict between institutions, but a concrete situation between individuals." He did acknowledge that some individuals had been detained, and one injured in the foot; however, according to Escobedo Mayor Margarita Lopez, five policemen appear to have been beaten, with one suffering a concussion, and another fractured ribs. (Note: this is not the first time security forces have faced off against each other in Monterrey. On June 8 of this year, municipal police, many also from Escobedo, engaged in a tense standoff with Federal Police in an attempt to prevent the detention of a colleague accused of working with the Gulf Cartel. Army units later stripped these municipal police of their long arms (reftel A.) Things Likely to Get Worse Before They Get Better --------------------------------------------- ---- ¶8. (SBU) While all three of these events have antecedents in the prior year, it seems that the open defiance on the part of organized crime as well as the tension between security forces has increased in recent weeks. This takes place in the context of new state and municipal administrations taking office and proposing dramatic changes intended to confront organized crime, ranging from Governor Medina's initiative to unify municipal and state police forces under a single command to the formation of a special "cleansing" unit to search out criminals under San Pedro's Mayor Elect Mauricio Fernandez (reftel B). At an October 16 meeting with the Consul General and Legatt, incoming Nuevo Leon state Attorney General Alejandro Garza y Garza acknowledged drug cartel infiltration of city, state and even federal police. It seems likely that with a new team in charge, many extant agreements between compromised security forces and criminal groups are falling apart. Reforms to public security forces proposed by new leadership - if effective at all - will take significant time to realize any real gains. Meanwhile, Nuevo Leon will likely see a continued increase in violence as competing forces struggle to reach a new equilibrium. WILLIAMSON



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