Jim Kouri
Thousands of Mexicans missing since beginning of drug war
By Jim Kouri
April 6, 2011

The Mexican Human Rights Commission released a report this week claiming that thousands of people have disappeared in Mexico since 2006, the year President Felipe Calderon declared war on his country's drug gangs.

The commission has reported that well over 5,000 people have been missing since 2006. The missing are not included in the staggering 35,300 killed in the drug war since 2006.

However, a United Nations study suggests Mexico's security forces may have played a part in the disappearance of some of those declared missing, especially those who entered Mexico illegally from Central American countries.

In addition to federal (Federales) and local police agencies, the Calderon administration deployed more than 45,000 military troops to combat the powerful and deadly drug cartels.

The Mexican human rights commission recently gathered and analyzed data on people reported missing or absent. The data was obtained from the relatives of missing persons and from state authorities.

Of the 5,397 people, the commission's report revealed that 3,457 of those who disappeared are men while 1,885 are women. There are 55 cases where the gender of the missing person is unknown.

Mexican officials said they are investigating the reasons behind the disappearances, and stated that the figure included those kidnapped for ransom and economic migrants from within Mexico and Central America whose whereabouts were unknown.

Mexico's statistics were released after the United Nations said it had received complaints alleging abductions carried out by Mexican soldiers. U.N. officials advised the Mexican government to stop using the army in anti-drug operations. But the U.N. had no recommendations as to how Calderon's administration would be able to stop the brutal and deadly drug gangs when they are renowned for targeting and murdering police officers, police commanders, prosecutors and judges.

Mexico's military in a recent survey ranks as one of the most respected institutions in Mexican society, well ahead of the politicians in its congress and the Roman Catholic Church clergy.

While most Latin American countries are or were accused of brutality, death squads and inhumane treatment of civilians, the Mexican army has never been involved in a military coup, nor has it faced accusations of systemic human rights violations.

Many of Mexico's military, especially officers and non-commissioned officers, have studied tactics and strategy in the United States or were trained by military advisors.

Unfortunately, due to low-pay and minimal benefits, there are a number of Mexican soldiers and police officers who work on both sides of the law. In fact, one of the most terrifying drug cartels — Los Zetas — started out as a band of former military personnel who worked as protection for the drug cartels such as the Mexican Mafia. Now Los Zetas is an independent cartel that is killing and dismantling its competitors.

Many of the founders behind Los Zetas were former special forces members in the Mexican army, and they formed the outlaw paramilitary organization in the 1990s to provide protection for the Gulf cartel. Los Zetas recently struck out on its own in search of greater drug profits, and it has been engaged in a deadly battle with the Gulf cartel for control over smuggling routes into the United States.

However, unlike other drug cartels, Los Zetas further has morphed into a full-fledged organized crime enterprise with extortion, kidnapping and other rackets in multiple regions throughout Mexico

© Jim Kouri


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Jim Kouri

Jim Kouri, CPP is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police... (more)


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