Thursday, January 29, 2009

Americans Run on the Baja California Banks goes sideways, Banks panic!

La Paz, Baja California Sur, Mexico-

Thousands of American ex-patriots, living in southern Baja Mexico, have run to their local Mexican banking accounts withdrawing millions of dollars. The panic was caused by the local Tourism department, after they announced the local Mexican banks would be changing some of the rules for Americans holding accounts in the state of Baja Sur, Mexico.

The Americans we spoke with, immediately either wired their funds to their, American, San Diego bank accounts. Or, they carried the money on air flights back to the United States. One American said, "I got a notice of the bank changing the fund rules for dollars and I knew I had to move my money before it became the value of the peso, worthless!"

The local La Paz banks are in a panic. Bancomer's Preferred Customer unit said today, "we are sure that some of you know about theses services changing from the announcement, the bilingual services we provide in Bancomer, about this rumor of the panic of dollar accounts", "the government changed the dollar based accounts".

Original Story Reported in Baja Sur Tourism

SPEED Mex Insiders Report

Insiders Report Details Baja Mexico Operating Environment

"FYI-The pozolero, the "stew maker" who has admitted to acidizing well over 300 people, who was caught and taken prisoner by federal authorities recently, was not caught in Rosarito, as many media reports indicate. He was caught in Ensenada Municipality. His lair was near the coastal 'Baja Seasons' resort, also in the Ensenada municipality. The next night, the La Mision police station, which assisted in the bust, was shot up with over a thousand bullet holes! This bust is just another of the thousands of indicators, pointing to Ensenada, Baja California Norte as the most corrupt area in Latin America.

Just today, Thursday, January 29, this breaking news from the crime capital of Mexico, Ensenada,"For the second time in as many days, a police station at the port of Ensenada was shot up by unknown assailants, without any casualties. The shooting occurred in the neighborhood of Loma Linda of Ensenada, the area where the local police, last week stopped and arrested, Santiago Meza Lopez, alias "Chagas", identified as "the Pozolero". His operations location, many bodies acidized, some parts and bodies buried onsite, was north of Ensenada proper, at the Baja Seasons resort.

In the past two months, there have been numerous police stations attacked including the office of state attorney general in Tijuana, and this is the second, at a police facility in the port city, of Ensenanda Baja California, Mexico. The previous week, just days after the arrest of the pozolero, who was recognized as the acid criminal that broke at least 300 bodies, unidentified subjects also attacked the police delegation of the mission in Ensenada. Several armed individuals in at least two vehicles, attacked police stations."

Insider Tip: Police officials are now going through the painful process of identifying all of the 'pozoleros' victims. Don't be shocked, if authorities find some the many 'missing' American and International tourists human remains in the group. Weekly, there have been notices, leaflets and active family members seeking information on individuals who simply vanished travelling in Baja Mexico, for many, many years."

"Last Monday, during Monday's edition of Fox News Channel's Glenn Beck Show, the decidely conservative host asked his viewers to answer a question: outgoing CIA Director Michael Hayden had stated that Iran was the Number One threat to the security of the United States; what country did Hayden rank as Number Two? The answer was Mexico.

Meanwhile, retired U.S. Army General Barry McCaffrey, the former U.S. drug czar, told the Los Angeles Times that the Mexican government "is fighting for its survival against narco-terrorism" and could lose effective control over large swaths near the U.S. border.

However, the new Secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano in a report obtained by the National Association of Chiefs of Police, stated on January 23 that, "The northern border of the United States has become, since 9/11, important to our national security. As we have designed programs to afford greater protection against unlawful entry, members of Congress and homeland security experts have called for increased attention to the Canadian border.

"What are the current vulnerabilities, the overall strategy for reducing those vulnerabilities, the requirements, the programs, the budget, and the timeframe for improving security along this border and what level of risk will remain once the programs are completed? An oral report is due by Feb. 10, with a final report due Feb. 17."

With the out-of-control crime gangs and government corruption, Mexico is the threat to the American people not Canada. And the current White House and most members of congress are either denying the danger exists or merely ignoring it.

As the agency with the broadest law enforcement authority within the Department of Homeland Security, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement is said to be uniquely positioned to combat vulnerabilities and threats to America from individuals involved in terrorism, organized crime, human smuggling and narco-terrorism at US borders.

According to DHS officials, ICE has established aggressive intelligence and investigative operations at the national borders, ports of entries, and between the ports and the national interior. However, some security experts are concerned with the current Administration's failure to address border problems. In fact, the new Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano is concentrating on the US-Canadian border.

The southern border of the US is a region particularly vulnerable to cross-border criminal organizations and enterprises and the violence associated with them. In recent years, ICE has witnessed an unprecedented surge in brutality by drug and human smuggling and trafficking organizations along the Southwest border. Below are a few of the initiatives that ICE has launched to combat the criminal organizations behind this activity."

Mexico Near collapse

"US Joint Forces Command (JFCOM) is predicting the collapse of Mexico. The root of this story lies in a study produced by (JFCOM) The Joint Operating Environment (JOE). The report appeared in November 2008, and was intended for use in "long range planning guidance." It was not meant to predict anything. Media sensationalists latched on to the comments about "rapid collapse" scenarios in the JFCOM speculative study and totally missed the point that this was a "what if?" scenario for planning purposes, not a prediction. JFCOM's long-range planners thought Pakistan and Mexico were "worst cases" of rapid collapse. Okay, this is fodder for wargaming and long-range planning excursions. No doubt a Mexican collapse would have huge effects on the US. However, the direct comparison to Pakistan was a huge stretch. For numerous reasons we will get to in a moment -- though we were glad to see JFCOM discussing Mexico and its complex security challenges.

Mexico is a huge security concern for the US, but that isn't a new phenomenon. We've been covering Mexico since 1978 and have covered the Cartel War (our original name, by the way) since December 2006 when the Mexican government decided to treat the cartel threat as the serious national threat it is and after San Diegans, Americans, were being kidnapped and taken into Mexico and held hostage for ransom. But Mexico is not Pakistan. It is not collapsing. It is not a "near failed state." Mexico is a threatened state, but the country has political will to confront the threats posed by violent drug cartels and its own legacy of corrupt politics. Even accounting for Chiapas (Maya land) and numerous wannabe separatists, Mexico also has money, education, and a comparative political-social coherence the entirety of South and Central Asia should envy.

Meanwhile, there are economic issues. From the Mexican perspective, NAFTA has been a means of "modernizing" the Mexican economy by evolution rather than revolution. The government, albeit slowly, has used NAFTA as a tool for streamlining the economy and reducing corruption. The government is directing a complex war that includes judicial and legal reformation ? dead serious counter-corruption drives that have put senior officials in jail. No, bliss is not around the corner, but this is a real path to real change.

GEN Barry McCaffrey's recent report to the West Point social sciences department on Mexico (memo dated December 29, 2008) makes the point about political will in Mexico is very explicit, "Now is the time during the opening months of a new US Administration to jointly commit to a fully resourced major partnership as political equals of the Mexican government. We must jointly and respectfully cooperate to address the broad challenges our two nations face. Specifically, we must support the Government of Mexico's efforts to confront the ultra violent drug cartels. We must do so in ways that are acceptable to the Mexican polity and that take into account Mexican sensitivities to sovereignty. The United States Government cannot impose a solution. The political will is present in Mexico to make the tough decisions that are required to confront a severe menace to the rule of law and the authority of the Mexican state?" McCaffrey's report also noted: "President Calderon has committed his government to the "Limpiemos Mexico" campaign to "clean up Mexico". This is not rhetoric. They have energized their departments of Social Development, Public Education, and Health to be integral parts of this campaign. Finally, there is a clear understanding that this is an eight-year campaign-not a short-term surge?" The former SOUTHCOM commander and US drug czar sees the problem but sees what Calderon and his government are doing. Some notables:

January 14, 2009: Mexican media reported that a member of the Beltran-Leyva drug cartel operating in Acapulco had "impersonated a police recruiter." The cartelista claimed he was offering police jobs but was really trawling for new gang members.

Police in Tijuana (Baja California) found a weapons cache with over 500,000 rounds of ammunition, including 195,000 rounds of 5.56mm (M-16 and AR-15 ammo) and 160,000 rounds of Russian-type 7.62 mm (AK-47 ammo). The police also seized 135 sacks of assorted ammunition, including .357 caliber, .38 caliber, 10 mm, and .45 caliber ammo.

January 10, 2009: The government is reviewing its own "economic bailout" plans. Remittances from Mexicans working in the US have declined (by as much as half) as the US recession continues.

January 2, 2009: He's back. The 15th anniversary (January 1, 2009) of his Zapatista revolt in Chiapas gave Subcomandante Marcos a huge media platform. Marcos used it, crafting a two-day "celebration" of the rebellion. He objected to Israel's offensive in Gaza. He also objected to President Calderon's Cartel War by claiming that "Calderon promised he'd use all the force of the state against organized crime, but it's evident that organized crime directs the force of the state."

The government passed a new security law that creates a "National Information Center" to collect information on criminals. The database will hold identification data, list prior convictions, and include "methods of operation" (ie, by the criminal).

January 1, 2009: An estimated 1653 people died by violence in the city of Ciudad Juarez (across the Rio Grande from El Paso, Texas). In 2007 318 were killed. A "final" national death toll has yet to be tabulated, but it is likely the figure will be "over 5,500."

December 28, 2008: The government reported that it has detained an army officer on charges of spying for a drug cartel. Mexican Army Major Arturo Gonzalez Rodriguez is suspected of spying for the Beltran-Leyva cartel.

SPEED Mex Insider Report