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

Lion Cecil's Killing Sparks 'Canned Hunting' Debate in S. Africa

Conservationists believe incident, which triggered worldwide outrage, will reshape debate about practice in which hunters are allowed to target animals bred for hunting More

US Urges Taliban to Stay With Afghan Peace Talks

Top US Afghan diplomat also meets with Pakistani, Afghan officials following news of Mullah Omar's death More

Environmentalists Issue Warning on Mekong Biodiversity

Scientists say decades of economic development, hydropower-dam construction, lax law enforcement and trafficking have taken their toll 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.
Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missionsi
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
George Putic
July 30, 2015 8:59 PM
Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.

VOA Blogs