WIKILEAKS: Mexico’s Army Worked With Extrajudicial Vigilante Gangs In Juarez

mexican army

[credit provider=”Wikimedia Commons”]

A leaked diplomatic cable from the U.S. Consulate in Ciudad Juarez offers a damning portrayal of the Mexican army’s campaign to curb rampant drug violence in the border city.The cable, written in January 2009 and recently released by WikiLeaks, suggests that the troops deployed to Juarez in 2008 to combat drug trafficking may have colluded with former cartel members hired to provide paramilitary-style protection to a group of Juarez businessmen.

City and state government officials have argued that there exists no evidence of a vigilante movement in Ciudad Juarez, and that the messages by the CCJ [Juarez Citizen Command] are a hoax.  A
Consulate contact in the press, however, suggests that the CCJ is a real self-defence group comprised of eight former ‘Zetas’ hired by four Juarez business owners (including 1998 PRI mayoral candidate Eleno Villalba). According to the contact, the former ‘Zetas’ paid a visit on local military commanders when they arrived in Juarez in September 2008, and purchased previously seized weapons from the army garrison. According to the contact, the former ‘Zetas’ pledged not to target the army, and made themselves available to the army for extrajudicial operations.

The document concludes that the troops – deployed as part of President Felipe Calderon’s crackdown on the drug trade – did little to combat the cartels, and even encouraged violent turf battles:

To great fanfare, 2500 Mexican army soldiers and federal police officers flew into Juarez [in March 2008] with the promise of ending the bloodshed.  The homicide numbers dropped somewhat in April, while the cartels fighting for the Juarez “plaza” took measure of the army’s tactics, and then the violence resumed and accelerated throughout the rest of the year.  The view is widely held that the army is comfortable letting the Sinaloa and Juarez cartels diminish each other’s strength as they fight for control of the “plaza” [drug trafficking route] (with a corollary theory being that the army would like to see the Sinaloa cartel win).

It’s worth noting that the security situation in Juarez has deteriorated further since the cable was sent. More than 3,000 people were killed in Juarez last year, up from 1,633 in 2008.