|Mexican Navy Officials
Helped Major Drug Cartel With Shipments
AP - May 19, 2002
MEXICO CITY – Mexican Navy officials helped protect the Pacific coast cocaine-shipping routes of a former major drug cartel in exchange for large payoffs, a Mexican newspaper reported Sunday.
The operatives of the Tijuana drug organization – most of whom are now in prison or dead – paid officers dlrs 250,000 for each shipment of Colombian cocaine they received then shipped to the United States, the Reforma newspaper said, citing police documents.
The report also said that from 1998 to 2000, the cartel received information on the routes of U.S. anti-narcotics agents along the coast.
The newspaper said the Secretary of the Navy declined to comment immediately on the report.
The head of the Tijuana gang, Benjamin Arellano Felix, was arrested in March, while his brother, gang "enforcer" Ramon Arellano Felix, was killed in February, according to U.S. officials by police working for a rival drug trafficker.
Two other top cartel officials have also been arrested over the past year and prosecutors have charged 10 police officials in Baja California state following a roundup of suspects with alleged ties to the Arellano Felix drug gang.
The cartel divided its coastal operations into four zones, extending from Acapulco in the south to Ensenada in the north, Reforma said, citing testimony from two protected witnesses to Mexican investigators.
The newspaper identified the two witnesses, both captured in mid- 2000, as Oscar Eduardo Gomez, of Colombia, and Sergio Rodriguez Tapia, both of whom apparently were responsible for handling the organization's sea-based drug shipments.
Tapia allegedly provided Gomez with information on the patrolling routes of Mexican and U.S. anti-narcotics operatives and arranged protection for drug shipments managed by Ismael Higuera Guerrero, the alleged principal operator of the Arellano Felixes, Reforma reported. Higuera was captured and is serving time in a maximum- security prison.
The witnesses also allegedly testified that Higuera controlled the airports in Morelia, in central Morelos state, and in Tijuana, and routinely shipped drugs via commercial airlines to the U.S. border.
The shipments went through with the aid of corrupt Federal Preventative Police officials, Reforma reported.
There was no immediate comment from the federal police.
|Mexican Navy Purchases
Anti-aircraft Missiles To Guard Against Terrorist Attack
By Jose Antonio Jimenez
AP - November 15, 2002
MEXICO CITY – Mexico's navy has purchased five Russian-made anti- aircraft missiles to better protect its oil-rich Gulf Coast from possible terrorist attacks, the head of the legislature's Naval Commission said Friday.
The missiles, designed to be fired from the ground by an individual soldier, are capable of destroying approaching aircraft from a distance of more than 3,500 yards (meters) and cost over US$2.14 million, said Cesar Patricio Reyes, president of the Congressional Naval Commission.
"These missiles were purchased to guard against the possibility of a terrorist attack, taking into account the fact that Mexico is one of the United States' most important trading partners and that we are a principal producer of oil," Reyes said in a phone interview.
Reyes said the missiles will be stocked aboard vessels patrolling Gulf waters around the port city of Campeche, an area crowded with oil- drilling platforms.
An annual commission report tracking naval spending shows the navy is ready to further beef up its weaponry and plans to purchase eight attack jets and six helicopters as well as bankroll additional combat training for its pilots beginning in 2004. The navy also eventually plans to build eight new oceanside outposts to better patrol Mexico's coasts, the report states.
The report reveals that, in addition to its ordinary annual budgets, the navy asked the commission for an extra 11.1 million pesos (US$1.1 million) in funding over the next three years. The money will go to finance the new weapons and training, according to the report.
The navy's budget for this year totals just 8.5 million pesos (US$850,000), Reyes said.
The report also details testimony before the commission by Naval director Marco Antonio Peyrot, who said the new weapons has become vital to Mexico's national security.
The navy "is not arming itself for war, it is arming itself to better do its job protecting national sovereignty," Reyes said.P