IPFS Ricardo Valenzuela

Reflexiones Libertarias

Ricardo Valenzuela

More About: Mexican United States Relations




Ricardo Valenzuela

HERMOSILLO, Mexico – This past Wednesday, I was at the Economist Business Forum in my home town of Hermosillo when my personal friend, Governor Eduardo Bours, arrived to give the welcome message to more than 500 participants. But then one of his aids showed up with a little paper note and this was what he got: Police had chased the remnants of a criminal assault force through mountains near the Arizona border on Thursday after kidnappings and gun battles that left at least 22 people dead and the police forces chasing the rest of the pack all over the high sierra.

Federal police helicopters and ground forces searched the Sierra Madre for fleeing gunmen on Thursday while state police moved in to replace terrified local officers who abandoned the town of Cananea, 20 miles south of the U.S. border. At that moment this sierra close to Arizpe, become more dangers than 100 years ago when Apache bands use to penetrate the State of Sonora from the San Carlos reservation located in Arizona, assaulting ranches and killing innocent people. Is a matter of fact that the Apache leader, Geronimo, got his name in that area when a cowboy signal the resemblance of the Apache chief with another cowboy named Geronimo.

Officials said Thursday that Mexican army troops had joined the fight Wednesday after a powerful drug cartel sent the assailants into town. However, this was an operation which was coordinated by the state police fallowing direct orders from Governor Bours to go after those criminal using all the force of the State.

Armed with assault rifles and riding in 10 to 15 vehicles, this group of professional killers, like a military operation pulled four lightly armed city police officers out of police cars and executed them in a roadside park and kept going terrorizing the town in a way that made remember the movie Tombstone, where those criminals known as “the cowboys” were in charge not the town authorities.

The invasion of Cananea — a town that helped spark the 1910 Mexican Revolution when U.S. forces crossed the border to help put down a miners' strike — showed the brashness and power of Mexico's ruthless organized crime gangs. Cananea is also the town where the Generals from Sonora—Obregon, Calles, de la Huerta, Serrano— in 1920 did write the Agua Prieta Plan which then was proclaimed in that city border with Douglas to march against President Carranza and take over the control of the country in what was known the Sonoran Hegemony.

The first outside authorities to arrive in Cananea on Wednesday found an eerie no man's land where local law enforcement had melted away when this small private army invaded the town. One witness affirmed: “this is understanding because our little police department is not ready nor training to fight what seems to be a professional army of mercenaries.”

"When the state police arrived, there was not a single municipal police officer," Sonora Gov. Eduardo Bours said, noting he previously asked for a federal investigation of the Cananea police force, apparently to determine whether it was infiltrated by Mexico's Pacific Coast drug gangs. Some people informed authorities this commando was on its way to Chihuahua and decided to stop in Cananea to settle some accounts with members of the municipal police on their payroll.

"We had to take over the command. There wasn't anyone there. They had all left." And boy they did to start a fierce counteroffensive using packs of local policemen who know the area, know how to track animals as well as humans, and more importantly, they are descendents of those brave sonorans who, a little bit more than a century ago, use to fight Apaches and Comanches renegades indians.

Five kidnapped city police were found dead and two residents were killed. State and federal police and soldiers rescued four civilians, including two children, as the battle broke out.

Federal Public Safety Secretary Genaro Garcia Luna blamed a turf battle between the Gulf and Pacific drug gangs.

"The whole adventure started when an armed command first abducted a police patrol then went out on the streets of Cananea ... abducting policemen," Garcia Luna told reporters. "It is a group linked to the Gulf cartel, waging a turf battle with the Pacific people, for control of this territory."

He praised Sonora state officials for their "efficient" response and their skills to fight in that danger area of the Sierra Madre in which not even the army can show that kind of efficient tactics that produced the big defeat for those criminals.

The gunmen tried to hole up in mountainous terrain around the town of Arizpe, about 50 miles to the south. But police and soldiers followed the assailants until they found them in a little valley ready to confront whoever. The shootout started resulting in the killing of 16 members of the fierce commando in an hours-long shootout, Bours said.

While President Felipe Calderon has dispatched thousands of army troops to fight the cartels, critics say troops trained for battle should not be acting as police officers.

The official National Human Rights Commission said Tuesday there was credible evidence that some of the newly deployed troops committed rapes, illegal searches and other abuses. But I have to insist and repeat, this was an operation executed by the State police fallowing orders from Gov. Eduardo Bours who really understand that the main responsibility of the State is the protection of its citizens.

"Soldiers are not trained to carry out police work," said Jose Luis Soberanes, president of the rights commission. "If you make them do it, they go overboard and we see these type of cases."

But the people from Sonora reacted showing their anger and sending a clear message to Soberanes: "We are feed up with your attitude protecting criminals," and praising Bours for his determination to protect them comparing him with another famous sonoran, Alvaro Obregon, who was one of the main leaders of the Mexican Revolution, president of Mexico in 1924, and always carried the reputation for his boldness and decisiveness.

At this moment the persecution of the rest of the gang is in progress all over the Arizpe sierra and the next shootout is about to happen at any moment. But seems that Gov. Bours is firm about his decision to put an end to this kind of barbaric actions in our State, when he is trying to build a friendly place for investments.