News / USA

US Cracks Down on Suspected Drug Dealers Linked to Mexico

Soldiers escort Julian Zapata Espinosa, fourth right, alleged member of the Los Zetas drug cartel, and other suspects during a presentation for the media in Mexico City, February 23, 2011
Soldiers escort Julian Zapata Espinosa, fourth right, alleged member of the Los Zetas drug cartel, and other suspects during a presentation for the media in Mexico City, February 23, 2011
Cindy Lavanderos

Federal authorities in the United States have arrested hundreds of people with suspected ties to Mexican drug cartels, following the shooting death of a U.S. law enforcement agent in Mexico last week. 

More than 3,000 federal, state and local law enforcement personnel conducted raids in major U.S. cities this week, arresting nearly 700 suspects, and confiscating large quantities of drugs, weapons, and at least $8 million in cash.

The sweep occurred just days after Jaime Zapata, a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent, was gunned down February 15 on a highway in Mexico's San Luis Potosi state.  Fellow agent Victor Ávila was wounded in the ambush, by suspected drug cartel members.

U.S. authorities  said they would not tolerate attacks against its agents, and threatened to take strong action against the perpetrators of such violence.  Zapata was the first U.S. agent to be killed in Mexico since Enrique “Kiki” Camarena was kidnapped, tortured and murdered while working with the Drug Enforcement Administration 26 years ago.

When the roundup began in the United States, Mexican authorities announced they had detained Julian Zapata Espinosa, the alleged leader of a cell of the Zeta drug cartel, and eight others believed to be connected to Zapata’s death.

According to Ricardo Trevilla, a spokesperson for the Defense Secretariat, the suspect confessed to having killed Zapata after mistaking the officials for members of a rival gang.

Trevilla said the alleged hitmen confused the agents’ armored sport utility vehicle they were chasing with that of an enemy cartel.

Political commentators have raised questions about the investigation, since the agent and his partner clearly identified themselves as diplomats and their car had diplomatic plates.  Also, they said, it is odd that the alleged killers would have remained in San Luis Potosí where they were arrested, had they committed the high-profile murder.

Mexico’s attorney general’s office  later said the detained cell leader had been arrested by the military in December 2009 after being found with assault weapons, camouflage uniforms and fake badges, but was eventually released on insufficient evidence.

Mexican President Felipe Calderón called U.S. President Barack Obama Wednesday to inform him of the arrest.  Admiral James Winnefeld, head of the U.S. Northern Command, said President Obama thanked President Calderón for Mexico’s efforts to bring the attackers to justice.

“President Obama expressed appreciation for the strong investigative work of the Mexicans to arrest one of special agent Zapata’s alleged killers and President Calderon expressed appreciation for the cooperation of American agents that made the arrest possible," he said.

Since President Calderón took office in 2006, more than 34,000 people have been killed in his crackdown on organized crime.  In contrast to the Zapata killing, few of these cases, however, have been investigated.

Tension between the two governments has increased over the past weeks.  The Mexican president expressed anger over State Department cables obtained by the website WikiLeaks, calling Mexican law enforcement agencies corrupt, inefficient and unwilling to cooperate with each other.

In an interview with the Mexican daily El Universal this week, President Calderón accused the U.S. government of not doing enough to curb drug distribution in the United States and failing to stop the flow of arms into Mexico.  He said U.S. law enforcement agencies competed with each other, failing to work together and that U.S. diplomats tended to “distort” what is going on in Mexico, harming U.S.-Mexican relations.

Mr. Calderón’s comments came just days after the U.S. House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly against a measure that would have required licensed firearm dealers to report multiple sales of assault weapons - a new way to catch gunrunners to Mexico.  Ninety percent of arms confiscated from drug traffickers come from the United States.

President Calderón will travel to Washington this coming week to meet with President Obama.  Talks are expected to focus on security issues and other matters.  Admiral James Winnefeld also discussed the upcoming meeting with the media.

“President Obama also said he was looking forward to welcoming President Calderon to the White House on Thursday, March 3 to discuss our important bilateral relationship and key global issues," he said.

This will be the fifth time the two leaders have met since January 2009.

You May Like

Mali's Female Basketball Players Rebound After Islamist Occupation

Islamist extremists ruled northern Mali for most of 2012, imposing strict Sharia law, and now some 18 months later, the region is slowly getting back on its feet More

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

Many Chinese-made products go unsold, for now, with numerous Vietnamese consumers still angry over recent dispute More

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid