A little too much shooting "en serio" down in Guadalajara, Mexico
Guadalajara is in the state of Jalisco and one of Mexico's largest cities. I've been there a few times and found it very charming – Mexico City without all of the traffic and pollution.
The state of Jalisco is also known for tequila and mariachis, the wonderful music groups with those big guitars and trumpets. They play at weddings, anniversaries, and for "5 de Mayo" celebrations in the Southwest. (By the way, listen to Linda Ronstadt's "Canciones de mi padre" for a quick introduction to mariachis and traditional Mexican songs. She dedicated the album to her Mexican father.)
Unfortunately, the region is also known for a recent surge in violence, as reported by Hector Guerrero:
Gunmen fired on a military helicopter in western Mexico on Friday, killing three troops as the aircraft made an emergency landing in a day of violence across drug crime-plagued Jalisco state.
The attack on the Cougar helicopter came as more than a dozen buses and trucks were torched in Guadalajara, Mexico's second biggest city, and a gang clashed with police in the town of Autlan.
Five banks were set on fire in the town of Ciudad Guzman, authorities said.
Authorities have not said who was responsible for the violence, but it came amid an escalation of violence by the Jalisco New Generation Drug Cartel, which killed 20 police officers in two ambushes in March and April.
The military helicopter was taking part in Operation Jalisco, which had just launched on Friday to combat crime, when it spotted carloads of gunmen in the southwestern part of the state.
"(The gunmen) attacked the military personnel with shots from firearms, hitting the Cougar helicopter, which conducted an emergency landing," the defense ministry said in a statement,
The helicopter was carrying 11 troops, five crew members and two federal police officers. They had spotted the gunmen on a road between the towns of Casimiro Castillo and Villa Purificacion when they were hit.
My sympathies to the families of the soldiers and policemen killed. Incredibly, this war has been going on for almost ten years! A Mexican friend told me that the Mexican Army's losses in this war are comparable to the U.S. in Afghanistan. I don't know if he is right, but the losses are big, especially for an army that has not fought this kind of intense warfare ever.
The latest version of the war in Jalisco shows how agile the cartels are. One cartel weakens, and another one rises. The new one, known as The New Generation, is competing with the Sinaloa, Zetas, Gulf, and Knights Templar cartels.
Here is the most incredible part of the afformentioned story:
Officials say the Jalisco cartel has grown so powerful that it has produced its own assault rifles in makeshift gun assembly shops. The gang has even recruited military deserters, including foreign ones.
The cartel has drawn the attention of the US government, which has funded Mexico's battle against drug cartels by providing equipment, training and intelligence.
Last month, the US Treasury Department slapped financial sanctions against the New Generation and its shadowy boss, Nemesio Oseguera, alias "El Mencho," as well as its allies, the Los Cuinis cartel.
Manufacturing their own assault rifles?
This is just one more headache for Mexico and President Peña-Nieto. Frankly, it should remind us north of the border that the violence will continue as long we keep consuming illegal drugs and sending billions of dollars to these cartels.
Drugs going north and cash flowing south is one U.S.-Mexico trade deal working very smoothly!
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