This is a source for analysis, interviews, and commentary on security in Latin America. Herein you will find rumors, the results of off the record interviews, and information you'll not find in international or United States news media.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Breaking the Silence

Posts have been thin and sporadic of late - such is the life of a freelance journalist. Wells have dried up, so like most of my brethren, I'm scrambling to keep pace with the changing nature of the media industry…

Here are some updates:

With John Sullivan, I published a piece on how Costa Rica and Panama have been caught in the middle between Mexico and Colombia, where organized criminal operatives from both countries have pushed into new territory.

Since that publication, we have seen a string of murders in Panama City, and just this past week, the head of the Sinaloa Federation in Costa Rica was arrested in Puntarenas (See Southern Pulse newsletter, Networked Intelligence tomorrow afternoon for details).

Honduras continues to provide some interesting developments. Since I published a piece on Honduras and how mainstream media should be focusing on what's going on behind the so-called coup de teat, we've seen a sharp up-tick in narco-flights landing in various points across the country.

Most of the flights, according to both Honduran and Colombian officials, originate in Venezuela, where the bulk of air traffic has shifted - it was once the purview of Colombian traffickers.

And Caracas has quietly become one of the most dangerous places on earth. With over 14,000 murders last year (country wide but many in Caracas), and police as corrupt as ever, Caracas has become a nightmarish place to visit. I'm told that you can't walk on the streets in a business suit after dark, and during the day, you should stick to the main streets. I felt this tension on my last visit to the city in November 2005.

Side streets, apparently, are teeming with young thieves. Dairy products and meat are hard to come by, and soon the entire city will begin rationing water, with rolling "water cut offs," scheduled by the government in 48 hour segments.
Can you imagine being mugged for a bottle of water? Back in Mexico, we continue to watch an ever-changing situation. Many of the country's states remain in solid control of one of the many DTOs there, but the agreements between various groups form and break like ice melting and re-freezing from one day to the next.

From what I understand, the Beltran-Leyva Organization (BLO) has hired Los Zetas to strengthen its fight against the Sinaloa Federation. The Carrillo-Fuentes Organization (CFO) cooperates with BLO and the Zetas, and remains very active with its own group of sicarios.

Los Zetas, meanwhile, have targeted Sinaloa and Michoacan.

The Arellano-Felix Organization continues to crumble, and now faces a very real threat from inside Tijuana.
The tit-for-tat murder and dismemberment of cops and others in the state of Michoacan indicates that the Zetas are pressuring members of La Familia, who have initiated La Familia Guerrense for the state of Guerrero. The Zetas are also pushing into Sinaloa, and the recent kidnapping if nearly two dozen ranch workers outside of Culiacan indicates that the powers that be in that area are worried about Zeta infiltration. After all, these guys - and their trainees - are well versed in training locals to act on their behalf…

I'll also add that I recently published a piece on diamond smuggling in South America, with a focus on Guyana, Venezuela, and Brazil. The Panamanians will soon open the region's only diamond trading hub, and some are worried that it will become a funnel for illegal diamonds leaving the region.

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