The ongoing struggle in Oaxaca percolated into local New York City news as grainy video footage taken by slain alterno-journalist Bradley Will has emerged as evidence in ongoing litigation over arrests at the 2004 Republican National Convention protests. On Oct. 1, the Wall Street Journal reports, US Judge Richard Sullivan in Manhattan ruled hundreds of arrests by the NY Police Department during the protests were illegal, potentially opening the city to costly civil suits. Reporter Colin Moynihan in the New York Times Oct. 8 informs us that Will's footage of the arrests was cited by the judge, and could figure in future suits. He also notes new developments in Will's slaying during the 2006 popular uprising in Oaxaca:
The Mexican Navy announced that the notorious Heriberto Lazcano AKA "El Lazca"—maximum leader of Los Zetas—was killed along with his chauffeur in a shoot-out near a baseball park in Progreso, Coahuila, Oct. 7. But two days later, the body was lost when an armed commando raided the funeral home where it was being held in the nearby town of Sabinas. Naval authorities insist a positive identification had been made through fingerprint analysis, although the results of DNA tests are still being awaited. Mexico's Governance Secretary Alejandro Poiré blamed a "lack of coordination" between federal and Coahuila forces for the loss of the body.
Friendly fire caused the death of US Border Patrol agent Nicholas Ivie and the wounding of a fellow agent near the Arizona-Mexico border this week. Three agents were patrolling a remote sector about five miles north of the border where sensors indicated the presence of smugglers, when two agents mistakenly opened fire on the third, authorities now say. Ivie himself is now said to have fired first. The clarification came after nearly a week of speculation that Mexican smugglers shot the agents. Yet, in a little-noticed contradiction to what is now the official story, Mexican police arrested two suspects within days of the shootings—raising the possibility that the arrests were a politically motivated response to US pressure. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) was quick to politicize the death of the agent, claiming possible links to the "Fast and Furious" weapons scandal. Since Ivie was apparently killed by another US agent—using a service weapon, according to ballistic reports—Grassley may have to rescind his statement. (Mexico Solidarity Network, Oct. 8; AP, Oct. 7)
US officials suspect that organized crime was behind an Aug. 24 attack by Mexican federal police on a US embassy car on a road near the Tres Marías community, south of Mexico City in the state of Morelos, the Associated Press wire service reported on Oct. 2. In the incident, a dozen police agents in several unmarked cars attacked an armored US car with diplomatic license plates in which two agents of the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and a member of the Mexican Navy were traveling to a Navy installation for a training session—apparently part of the aid the US provides to Mexico's "war on drugs."
After a 14-hour session, the Chamber of Deputies of the Mexican Congress voted in the early morning of Sept. 29 to approve major changes to the 1970 Federal Labor Law (LFT). The 346-60 vote in the 500-member Chamber was pushed through by an alliance of the governing center-right National Action Party (PAN) and the centrist Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI). There was one abstention, and many deputies from the center-left Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) walked out of the session in protest before the vote. The measure, which was passed under a special "fast-track" provision, now goes to the Senate, which must act on it within 30 days.
Mexican naval forces announced the arrest Sept. 27 of Iván Velázquez Caballero, AKA "El Taliban" or "Z-50"—said to be a top commander of Los Zetas who had recently defected to the rival Gulf Cartel. El Taliban was said to be in a struggle with his former boss, Zeta commander Miguel Treviño Morales AKA "Z-40" for control of the "plaza" (trafficking theater) in San Luis Potosí, where the arrest took place. From 2007 until his recent break with the Zetas, he had also controlled the plazas in Zacatecas, Aguascalientes, Guanajuato, Nuevo León and Coahuila. He had a reward of 30 million pesos ($2.3 million) on his head.
In other news, the Mexican government continues to play down an Aug. 24 incident in which Mexican federal police in at least four vehicles shot up a US embassy van carrying two US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) agents to a Mexican Navy installation; the two agents were wounded and are being treated in the US. On Sept. 17 a Mexican official suggested that the attack was the result of simple confusion. The police agents were looking for a gang that had kidnapped an employee of the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) in the same area, the official said. They were focused on the unusual presence of an armored van traveling at high speed on a country road, and they didn't notice that the vehicle had diplomatic license plates, according to the official, who said he couldn't be cited by name. (Associated Press, Sept. 17, via Terra Argentina)
On Sept. 19 Michael Horowitz, the inspector general of the US Department of Justice, released a 471-page report on Operation Fast and Furious, a bungled program in which the Arizona office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) inadvertently let about 2,000 firearms pass into Mexico during 2009 and 2010, with many of the weapons apparently going to Mexican drug traffickers . The inspector general, a sort of internal auditor for the Justice Department, found that the ATF and US prosecutors in Arizona were at fault in the operation, along with Justice officials in Washington who were responsible for supervising the ATF and the federal prosecutors.